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Springfield's mysterious burglar in 1910, aged 28, the year he 
shot Miss Blackstone. 


Spencer— Czolgosz—Richeson 



Director of the Massachusetts Society for Mental Hygiene, Member of the American In 

stitute of Criminal Law and Criminology, Societe Medico-Psychologique 

of Paris, France; New England Society of Psychiatry, 

American Medico-Psychological Association 



Copyright, 1921, hy Richard G. Badger 

All Rights Reserved 

Made in the United States of America 

The Gorham Press, Boston, U. S. A. 



for his inspiration and legal counsel 


for his valuable suggestions 


for her research ivork 

in its preparation 
I dedicate this volume 

as a mark of my 
appreciation and esteem 



The time has come when we must more seriously con- 
sider means for the prevention of mental disease and 
of such crime as is a product of the brain incapable of 
normal functioning. Our Governor, Channing H. Cox, 
in his Inaugural Address in January, 1921, said: 

"Last year Massachusetts expended $11,887,108 for 
the maintenance and improvement of the institutions 
conducted by the Departments of Mental Diseases, 
Corrections, Public Welfare and Public Health. This 
represents a large proportion of our public expendi- 
tures. Massachusetts has been a pioneer in the work 
of caring for the unfortunate and the afflicted and is 
today doing much in this direction which has not been 
attempted by other States. The policy in this regard has 
met with the general approval of our citizens and they 
insist not only upon a continuance of this work but that 
the work be better done. Our citizens must recognize 
the immense cost of it all and they must be prepared to 
pay for it. They must remember that some of this 
work has been made necessary because individuals are 
not doing things for afflicted members of their own 
families which they did in former generations, and 
because parents are not exercising the same degree of 
control and correction of their own children that they 
did in earlier times. Our only hope of remedy from 
this constantly increasing public expense lies in finding 
measures of preventing diseases of the mind and the 



body and preventing the degradation of morals. We 
are now trying some preventive measures that have 
done a great deal in checking the spread of tuberculosis 
and preventing the spread of other diseases. I recom- 
mend appropriations for further research in the en- 
deavor to check the increase of the feeble-minded and 
to reduce, if possible, the number w^ho are sent to cor- 
rectional institutions." 

Hon. B. Loring Young, now Speaker of the Massa- 
chusetts House of Representatives, in addressing the 
General Court at its opening, in 1921, stated that sup- 
port of the institutions for the insane and feeble-minded 
would cost this year $8,400,000; payments for the De- 
partment of Public Welfare will cost $4,500,000; for 
Department of Health $1,500,000, and Department of 
Corrections $1,400,000; making a total of approximate- 
ly $16,000,000, or 40% of our total expenditures. 

"For the care of the defective, dependent and delin- 
quent classes," he said, "the enormous expenditures 
which Massachusetts now makes, 40% of our total, 
should make us eager to find remedies for the distress- 
ing social conditions which these necessary expendi- 
tures prove to exist. We might well consider what 
measures of preventive health and social work would 
lessen this ever-growing burden for future generations." 

I feel that all communities must support such a far- 
sighted policy as that expressed by Governor Cox and 
Mr. Young for the prevention of mental disease and 
crime. We are not today using the knowledge we pos- 
sess, or the means we have at our command to stop the 
swelling of this stream of defectiveness and mental ill- 
ness. With the exception of the important work that 
is being done by our out-patient departments or dis- 


pensaries, what are we doing to prevent the increase in 
the number of our mentally sick, with the consequent 
suffering and expense, not to speak of the loss to our 
community of their intelligence? Why are not more 
individuals saved? What are we doing to prevent crime 
which is so rampant now in our midst, resulting in the 
loss of lives and property and the increase of our de- 
pendents? It is to bring the above conditions to the 
attention of the public, it is to make communities realize 
that crimes, including murder, may often be prevented 
if the people are once awakened, that I have written 
the history of three crimes which might have been pre- 
vented, crimes which were inexcusable and a disgrace 
to our country. Society here punished the person it 
created. The original fault was the fault of society. 
Society, upon whom rests the responsibility, should be 
arraigned at the bar of Justice and put on trial and con- 
victed instead of its product. 

There is no excuse for any community not taking 
measures to recognize mental disease during its earliest 
manifestations. We should recognize the defectives 
not only in the schools but earlier, and then apply the 
remedy and not cease diligently to use all scientific 
means to cure mental illness before the disease becomes 
chronic, and so to direct and train the mind of the de- 
fective that at least he will become if not a useful, then 
a harmless member of society. In either case we must 
protect these individuals and the community from any 
harm consequent on their defectiveness or disease by 
directing their lives, if necessary, in hospitals or in 

Glueck says: "The management of the social prob- 
lems created and kept alive by this huge army of fail- 


ures in the business of living imposes a staggering bur- 
den upon the nation. It is an army responsible for 
more misery and sorrow than is even a world war, for 
death and bereavement are preferable to the lives that 
many of these unfortunates are obliged to live, and it 
carries with it a very serious menace to the future of the 
human race. . . . Education has something to do with 
preparation for life, and upon a personal conviction 
gained after a great deal of experience in the manage- 
ment and treatment of human failures, that no educator 
can successfully fulfill this important phase of his task 
unless he is concerned with the total individual, with 
his reactions as a social being, called upon to adjust 
and adapt continuously to the demands of life, and not 
merely with his receptacles of information." 

Invariably an early study of the personality of these 
individuals will reveal certain character traits such as 
jealousy, cruelty, suspicion, egotism, negative self feel- 
ings, false pride, etc., which unless recognized and cor- 
rected while their minds are still plastic will eventually 
lead to paths which will prevent them from making 
the proper adaptation to their environment, the results 
being crime, pauperism, mental and physical disease. 

On the other hand if these same instinctive forces be 
guided and directed and perhaps the environmental 
factors altered, and mental and physical occupation se- 
lected to suit each case, an avenue would be established 
which would take that individual out of chaos into a 
useful and happy life. 

They cannot compete with normal people either so- 
cially or economically and they are knocked from pillar 
to post and often shut up without any intelligent effort 
being made to direct their energies. They are punished 


in their homes, in the schools and in prisons because 
they are incapable of adjusting themselves to that which 
is unsuited to them. 

Some have undoubtedly been born without any sense 
of moral responsibility in their make-up, and a very 
large number have been warped by environment. Is 
it right to punish these individuals? It may be neces- 
sary to give them custodial care but our responsibility 
does not end there. To be sure, we should thus protect 
the public; but in making a man do a certain stunt or 
piece of work daily in an institution, we make him into 
a producing machine, we may not have done anything 
for him individually. Surely, in this enlightened age, 
these handicapped individuals are entitled to as much 
of our time and effort as is necessary to develop their 
capacities to the highest possible degree. 

A plan for the defectives should, I believe, even- 
tually be carried out along the following lines: 

A building, or number of buildings, should be erect- 
ed where this group may be individually studied ac- 
cording to their various medical, educational or re- 
educational requirements. It should not have any title 
suggesting hospital or custodial treatment, but might 
be called a school or training school. It should, how- 
ever, be under expert medical supervision. The or- 
ganization should also include one or more psycholog- 
ical and vocational experts and social workers, and a 
pathologist. There should be well equipped labora- 
tories, a department where the three R's, ethics and 
hygiene would be taught, with classes for languages, 
music, etc.; departments of trades, craftsmanship and 
domestic arts, where instruction might be given in car- 
pentry, cabinet work, carving, masonry, brickmaking, 


tile and cement work, plumbing, electrical work, shoe- 
making, tailoring, printing, farming, dressmaking, 
cooking, canning, preserving, laundry work, etc. ; a 
department of occupational therapy, where a certain 
small group, incapable of continuous efifort in any one 
direction, should be employed in various handicrafts, 
according to their therapeutic needs, such as basketry, 
weaving, lace-making, rug braiding and hooking, pot- 
tery, etc. 

A school of this kind should be able to graduate into 
the community a number of its pupils each year, who 
should then be under the supervision of the social work- 
er. There will be many who might never graduate, 
but every one of these defectives, however anti-social, 
should be given an opportunity to prepare himself to 
go out into the world and make good. It is by such 
methods together with the supervision he exercises over 
the patients who leave his school that Dr. Walter E. 
Fernald develops hundreds of feeble-minded individ- 
uals to safely take their places among normal people 
and guides them in the life he has found suitable for 
them in the community. Ninety-three of his former pa- 
tients earned over $102,000 in 1920, and sixty- three 
served with honor in the World War; of these two 
were killed and several wounded. 

A great assistance in the preventive work, especially 
in the early discovery of defectiveness, are and will be 
the laboratories and the consultations with specialists 
in the training schools. The laboratories will first sci- 
entifically examine the body at large, note the stigmata, 
and the variations in the relative size of the organs, 
look for syphilis, tuberculosis, and especially congenital 
syphilis, which often can be shown by an x-ray of the 


bones when other tests are negative. A study of the 
glands and their secretions is a most fertile field. Care- 
ful bacteriological and serological examinations should 
be made, and psychometric and psychonosological ex- 
aminations and psychological studies, including studies 
of the emotion and will. 

Every State should provide special units for the care 
and treatment, both educational and medical, of this 
so-called "defective delinquent" group. Their crimes 
and the burden of their support handicap our civiliza- 
tion whereas none need be harmful and many might be 

There are a great many who, in the light of present 
knowledge, may never be able to take any place in the 
community, but this does not mean that there is not 
perhaps a larger group who are capable of good work, 
showing marked ability in one direction or another, 
though this ability is sometimes misapplied. 

To illustrate the deplorable results of neglect by 
society of mentally ill and defective individuals, I have 
written the life history of three cases where failure to 
appreciate the seriousness of their mental condition re- 
sulted in the death of six persons and involved untold 
suffering. In any of these three men, defectiveness or 
mental disease could easily have been recognized early 
in their lives. Their condition was actually recognized 
long before their crimes were committed, but when rec- 
ognized nothing was done to help them owing to the 
neglect of society and to the short-sighted policies of 
our government as at present organized and admin- 

Had our medical universities properly educated the 
physicians who saw these men; had our government. 


state and local, provided and carried out a systematic 
and fairly frequent examination of the school children 
in the several cities and towns; had they organized and 
carried on mental dispensaries and clinics conducted by 
highly trained specialists which were within the reach 
of every physician and in connection with clinics of 
other branches of medicine, and, lastly, had psycho- 
pathic hospitals been established for the earliest or 
acute cases of mental disease and schools for the edu- 
cation and training of defectives, the lives of these three 
men would probably have been saved, some use made 
of the faculties with which God had endowed them, 
and their three victims might still be living. 

Again look at this question from a scientific point 
of view. What efforts tending to prevention are the 
scientists making with these cases? When we find a 
germ that kills people we do not annihilate it so that 
it is impossible to learn more about it. No, we put it 
under glass, nurse and study it under different condi- 
tions, find out its characteristics, its source and how it 
develops, so that we may be able to combat other germs 
of the same kind and render them at least harmless. 

There is a question whether with a scientific exami- 
nation into the minds, natures, environments and devel- 
opment of men who commit crimes of violence we 
should not find the cause and a means of prevention. 
At present our knowledge of their impulses is usually 
based on evidence in court and the statements of these 
individuals themselves. We know now that their minds 
are often of such a calibre that the fear of punishment 
does not deter them. With minds so primitive that 
they do not understand or fear death, or so diseased that 


they do not appreciate the consequences of their acts, 
these people go on unmolested until often they commit 
some deed which is followed by disaster and suffering. 
The fear of death did not deter men who were bent 
upon stealing sheep when they were hanged for it. 
Many and many other examples could we cite. Did the 
fear of death ever deter a person who was capable of be- 
coming, as the expression goes, ''blind with rage" from 
violence, or does a person who plots for revenge, which 
he believes he is entitled to, stop because of conse- 
quences, stop because of law? No, and no more does 
the regicide hesitate to give up his life to some great, 
though imaginary, cause which often results in the 
death of his victim. Would any person of low mental 
calibre, carried away by sufficiently strong emotion, be 
deterred by law from committing crime? 

Does not this all tend to prove that we have not the 
remedy in law? I believe we have it in scientific study 
and investigation, in psychopathic hospitals and dis- 
pensaries properly supported by government and com- 
munity, both financially and morally, and by proper 
rules and regulations of society which will protect the 

The alleged excuse for law is that it will act as a 
deterrent. It does not so act with the classes we have 
under discussion. It did not so act with these three 
individuals whose histories I have written. Therefore, 
we must apply medical science. We must not wait for 
the law with its inexact science to act. We must take 
these individuals long before they get into the grasp 
of the courts. We must begin with them when they 
are children. We must watch over them, study them, 


change their environment, if necessary, guide and in- 
struct them, and thus protect them and the com- 

The real offender is society and not the children in 
the form of men, nor the mentally diseased. Due to 
the lack of proper laws or rules protecting people of 
this kind, the opportunity was afforded to commit these 
crimes. If society took enough interest to enforce 
proper regulations, these people would have been under 
intelligent supervision and, if need be, confinement. 
Medical colleges and Universities teaching medicine 
should make compulsory a course in psychiatry and 

Miss Blackstone was shot by Bertram G. Spencer, 
a young man whom all the alienists who examined him 
pronounced a defective, a defective from birth, whose 
earlier life had demonstrated that he was not a safe 
individual to live unguided in the community, but he 
was allowed to go on in his wild career until in a crucial 
moment he lost control of himself and by an impulsive 
act destroyed the life of a useful member of society. 

President McKinley was killed by a diseased man, 
a man who had been suffering from some form of men- 
tal disease for years. He was not medically responsible 
and in the light of present-day psychiatry and of mod- 
ern surgical procedure, there is a great question 
whether he was even legally responsible for the death 
of our President. 

Clarence V. T. Richeson was, I think, the only man 
ever executed in Massachusetts without a trial. He was 
a victim of hysteria with delusions, hallucinations, 
amnesic periods and delirium. He had exhibited signs 
and had had attacks of this disease for years, had been 


recognized as mentally unsound by several physicians 
who advised specialists in mental diseases to attend him. 
Still, he was allowed to "carry on" until his acts resulted 
in the death of a young girl of this State. 

After making an earnest effort to obtain the results 
of the histological examinations of the brains of Spencer 
and Richeson which the late scientist Dr. E. E. South- 
ard said he had been permitted to make and having 
failed one cannot help interpreting the secrecy regard- 
ing these results as indicating a possibility that the opin- 
ion of those who felt one or both of these condemned 
men were of unsound mind was substantiated by the 
microscopical examination of these brains after death. 
It is regrettable that such valuable information as 
would result from a careful microscopic examination 
of the brains in question should be withheld by the 
Medical Examiner even a day, information which 
might prove of inestimable aid to the medical profes- 
sion for whose perusal and reference this book is writ- 
ten and many of whom have to do with similar cases. 

The public who are really responsible for the death 
of these men should also be informed what the final 
analysis revealed, that they may know if these execu- 
tions were justified and be better prepared to pass 
judgment on future occasions. 

I would suggest that several new laws be enacted 
which will again advance Massachusetts another step 
beyond her sister States in the care of mental disease 
and defect. First, that Massachusetts shall grant li- 
censes to practice medicine only to applicants who have 
complied with all existing requirements and in addition 
shall have passed an examination in psychiatry. Now 
that Harvard Medical School has a Chair of Psychiatry 


there is no excuse for her graduates not being prepared 
in this important branch of medicine. Other universi- 
ties teaching medicine and medical colleges recognized 
by the Mass. State Board of Registration in Medicine 
must make compulsory a course in psychiatry if their 
graduates intend practicing in Massachusetts. 

I would further suggest a law which will compel 
physicians in Massachusetts to report to the Department 
of Mental Diseases in accordance with rules and regu- 
lations to be prescribed by the said Department every 
known or doubtful case of mental defect or dangerous 
form of mental disease within twenty-four hours after 
becoming cognizant thereof, and that these reports 
should be kept on file at the said Department but shall 
not be open for public inspection. If after receiving 
the report of any particular case the Department of 
Mental Diseases believes that the said case is not receiv- 
ing proper care and treatment, it may make such recom- 
mendations to the attending physician or other persons 
in interest as the welfare and safety of the person af- 
flicted and of the public may require. Any physician 
who neglects or refuses to comply with the provisions 
of this act, or who violates any rule or regulation of the 
Department of Mental Diseases made under authority 
hereof, shall forfeit a sum not exceeding fifty dollars 
for each offence. 

Again I would suggest that a law be passed which 
would abolish the distinction between medical and 
legal insanity in chronic cases, if not in all cases, and 
at the same time prevent the deplorable condition 
which now exists whereby the mentally defective and 
diseased are returned to our prisons again and again. 
The law I would suggest is as follows: Whenever a 


person is indicted by a grand jury or bound over for 
trial in the Superior Court who has previously been 
convicted of crime or who has previously been indicted, 
the clerk of the court in which the indictment is re- 
turned or the clerk of the district court or the trial 
justice, as the case may be, shall give notice to the De- 
partment of Mental Diseases and the Department shall 
cause such person to be examined with a view to deter- 
mining his mental condition and the existence of any 
mental disease or defect. The Department shall file a 
report of its investigation with the clerk of the court in 
which the trial is to be held and the same shall be pre- 
sented to the court or jury as evidence of the mental con- 
dition of the accused. This would in no way interfere 
with the rights of the individual to employ experts but 
it would tend to settle all questions so far as the State is 
concerned and prevent the deplorable condition which 
now exists in so many cases when our medical men are 
apparently pitted against each other and are held up 
to ridicule. 

I believe that such a law, with its results, would soon 
discourage the plea of insanity in all cases found sane 
and responsible by a Department of Mental Disease, 
and that juries would invariably accept as final the re- 
port of such a Department who would be unbiased, un- 
paid by either side and whose experience is worthy of 
serious consideration. This would also leave the re- 
sponsibility of a medical case with medical men. Is 
there a judge or attorney within this Commonwealth 
who would take a member of his family with two dis- 
agreeing physicians to a jury of laymen to make a cor- 
rect diagnosis of the mental disease or defect from 
which he or she was suffering or to determine the extent 


of the disease? Still that is what the juries of this Com- 
monwealth are determining every day. No more would 
a judge or an attorney go to a body of medical men to 
determine the intricacies of law. The law completely 
disregards medical opinion, still it asks physicians to 
pass upon legal responsibility. Psychiatrists should not 
be asked to pass upon questions of law any more than 
lawyers should be called in as experts upon questions 
of medicine. The cases to which alienists are called 
are medical cases and are either responsible or irre- 
sponsible medically, and that determination should be 
left to medical men. 

As a result of our policies in this State we had in 
19 1 8, according to the census obtained by the "Special 
Commission Relative to the Control, Custody and 
Treatment of Defectives, Criminals and Misdemean- 
ants," 11,495 persons committed to our penal institu- 
tions in that year, of which 6,733 ^^ 58.5% were re- 
peaters. It further appears from the same tabulation 
that they averaged 6.8 former commitments each. In 
the 21 county jails and houses of correction 5,727 of the 
9,719 inmates entering these county institutions during 
19 1 8 were known to have served time before and the 
number of sentences served by these repeaters totalled 
40,228. The records of these repeaters in county jails 
showed that 25 or more previous commitments was not 
uncommon, while some institutions housed men with 
as many as 100 terms of confinement recorded against 





I History of Spencer's Crimes to Time of Arrest, April sth, 1910 23 

II History of Spencer's Life — Examination of Spencer Im- 
mediately After His Arrest by the Commonwealth's Alien- 
ists — Spencer's Transfer to Bridgewater State Hospital, 
September 17TH, 1910 62 

III History at Bridgewater 108 

IV Political Campaign in Western Massachusetts, as Affecting 

Spencer — Reports of Bridgewater Authorities to Chief 
Justice Aiken — Removal of Spencer from Bridgewater to 
Springfield for Trial, August ist, 19x1 128 

V The Trial — Including Previous Court Proceedings and Ef- 
forts for a New Trial, to Time of Sentence to Death, 
July 2nd, 191a 153 

VI Removal of Spencer to Charlestown, September sth, 1912 — 
Efforts for Commutation of Sentence — ^Execution, Septem- 
ber 17TH, 1912 222 


Introduction to the Czolgosz Case — Reasons Why Investiga- 
tion WAS Made — History and Investigation of the Case by 
Alienists and Authorities in Buffalo — Conclusions as to 
His Sanity Made Mainly from Statements by Czolgosz 
Himself 233 

I History of Czolgosz's Crime — The Assassination of President 
McKiNLEY, September 6th, 1901 — Examination by the 
Alienists 237 

II Trial and Execution of Czolgosz 248 

III Czolgosz at Auburn, N. Y. — Impressions of the Officers in 

Charge of Him . 255 

IV Czolgosz in Buffalo, N. Y., Prison — His Life at West Seneca, 

N. Y., Just Before the Crime — A Visit to Czolgosz's Birth- 
place, Detroit, Michigan 266 

V History of Czolgosz's Life in Ohio — His Breakdown in 1897 
Causing Him to Leave His Position at Cleveland — Sick 
Benefit Received — His Life on the Farm at Warren, Ohio— 
His Sudden Departure from Home 284 




VI CzoLcosz's Efforts to Become an Anarchist— His Interest in 
THE Teachings of Emma Goldman — Anarchists Consider 
Him a Spy and Publish Warning to Their Brethren — 
Criticisms of Him in the Anarchists' Papers 316 

VII Opinions of Spitka, Hamilton, Christieson, Lydston, Holt and 

Hughes — Service of Czolgosz's Brothers in the World War 332 


Introduction to the Richeson Case — The Crime of Rev. 
Clarence V. T. Richeson Illustrating Sex Delinquency — 
The History of This Case is Unique in that no Jury was 
Impanelled at the Time He Pleaded Guilty — He was 
Electrocuted without Trial by Judge or Jury — Affidavits 
Presented for the First Time Setting Forth His Mental 
Condition were Not Considered by the Judge who Sentenced 
Him and were Never Passed Upon Judicially — His Plea for 
Clemency was Never Formally Presented to the Council . 347 

I History of the Crime — Arrest of the Rev. Clarence Virgil 
Thompson Richeson — He Pleads Not Guilty — Action of the 
Church 351 

II Richeson's Resignation Accepted — Successful Self-Mutilation 
— Retracts Plea of Not Guilty — Pleads Guilty to Murder 
IN First Degree and Counsel Present Confession — Sentenced 
to Death — Only Case in Massachusetts Sentenced to Death 
without Trial by Either Judge or Jury — Alienists for the 
Defense Present Their Reports 364 

III Governor Foss Asks Dr. L. Vernon Briggs to Examine Richeson 

AND Report His Findings to Him — Commission Also Ap- 
pointed to Examine Richeson for the Council — History of 
Richeson's Heredity and Early Life — Affidavits of Physi- 
cians Attending Him, Etc 372 

IV Examination and Report of Dr. L. Vernon Briggs — Richeson 

Has an Hysterical Attack in Jail — Petitions Governor Foss 
AND Council for Clemency 410 

V Richeson's Removal to Massachusetts State Prison, May 14TH, 
1912 — Governor Foss Refuses Commutation — Richeson Again 
Has Hysterics with Hallucinations and Delirium — His 
Execution, May 2ist, 1912 428 

INDEX 441 


Bertram G. Spencer, Springfield's Mysterious Burglar in 1910 Frontispiece 


Bertram G. Spencer, aged 7 mos., 2 days 68 

Bertram's Father, Mother and Son 68 

Bertram G. Spencer, aged 5 years 68 

Bertram G. Spencer, aged 17 years 84 

Bertram G. Spencer in California, aged 25 years 88 

Bertram G. Spencer, aged 29, During his Confinement in York Street 

Jail 104 

Part of Letter Written by Spencer May 28, 1912, Showing Effect of 

Emotional Thoughts When Referring to His Wife at This Time . 214 

Designed, Drawn and Printed by Bertram G. Spencer After Passing 

Under the Influence of Christian Science 224 

Leon F, Czolgosz, the Day After He Shot President McKinley . . . 243 

Leon F. Czolgosz, Just Before His Execution at Auburn, N. Y. . . 252 

Leon F. Czolgosz. Photograph Taken in 1900 Found Among His Effects 

at Buffalo. Letter Written About Time He Arrived in Buffalo . 274 

Paul Czolgosz, Father of Leon 288 

Jacob Czolgosz, Brother of Leon 296 

Letter Written by Leon F. Czolgosz — Fred C. Neiman One Year after 

He Gave up Work 314 

Clarence V. T. Richeson, a Student at the Newton Theological Semi- 
nary, 1908 354 

Clarence V. T. Richeson, Pastor of the Immanuel Baptist Church, 

Cambridge, 1910 354 

Clarence V. T. Richeson, Taken at Charles Street Jail, April, 1912 . 420 

Clarence V. T. Richeson, One Week Before His Execution . . . 430 




APRIL 5TH, 1 910 

Beginning in June, 1908, and continuing for nearly 
two years, a series of sensational crimes occurred in 
Springfield, Massachusetts, which completely baffled 
the police and so terrorized the inhabitants that when 
these crimes finally culminated, on March 31st, 1910, 
in the murder of Miss Blackstone, a young woman 
much beloved and respected in the community, pub- 
lic indignation and excitement reached a fever heat 
and the city was in a condition little short of panic. 
There was not very much doubt in anyone's mind but 
that these crimes had all been committed by the same 
person. Although they alike exhibited an almost un- 
paralleled daring and bravado, they were evidently 
not the work of a professional burglar. In all there 
seemed a singular lack of motive; although houses 
were entered, lives threatened and property stolen, the 
actual gain was trifling and, in most instances, the risk 
taken was out of all proportion to the possibility of 
gain. Indeed this burglar frequently passed by val- 
uable articles and took pretty trinkets of lesser value; 
the hours chosen for his entries were generally early in 



the evening when there was every risk of his being de- 
tected; when confronted, as he frequently was, by 
members of the family whom he was robbing, he 
seemed quite fearless so long as no noise was made; but 
a scream or any other loud noise excited him and fre- 
quently led to some demonstration of violence. He 
was known even to go out of his way while robbing a 
house to encounter the inmates, and on several oc- 
casions had conversation with them. 

Of course there were many theories as to the perpe- 
trator of these burglaries, but in spite of unceasing ef- 
forts on the part of the police, no clue of any impor- 
tance fell into their hands up to the first week in April, 

Miss Martha B. Blackstone, the woman who was 
murdered on the last day of March, 1910, was the 
daughter of Charles J. Blackstone, a well-known hard- 
ware man in Springfield. She was an only daughter, 
thirty-nine years old, and lived with her parents. She 
graduated from Smith College in the Class of 1893, 
and for the last two years had been teaching the first 
grade of the Jefferson Avenue School in Springfield. 
She was said to be a woman of high intellect and cul- 
ture, and was respected and beloved by her pupils and 
associates. While teaching at the Jefferson Avenue 
School, she had made the acquaintance of the Misses 
Harriet and Lucy Dow, the former of whom was also 
a teacher there, and Miss Blackstone frequently visited 
them at Round Hill, where they lived with their 
mother Mrs. Sarah J. Dow. 

Round Hill is an attractive neighborhood in the 
North End of Springfield. It is skirted by Plainfield 
Street on the south, by the tracks of the Boston & 


Maine Railroad on the west, and Arch Street runs 
along its northerly base to Main Street. The early 
builders had had the taste to spare the fine trees, with 
which nature had endowed the Hill, and a number of 
attractive houses had been built in their shaded seclu- 
sion. The driveway ascends from Plainfield Street near 
the crossing of the Boston and Maine tracks, and curves 
downward to Arch Street on the north. Some houses 
face this driveway and others stand back among the 
trees, connected by a private avenue with the hill road 
and other streets. On the crest of Round Hill, to the 
right, perhaps a hundred feet from the driveway, 
stands the two-story frame dwelling in which Mrs. 
Dow and her daughters lived. It is a plain, but com- 
fortable, modern two-family house. The Dows oc- 
cupied the lower apartment, and a family by the name 
of Dwight the upper floor. The Dows' apartment 
consisted of six rooms: two parlors, connected by an 
archway, a dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, a hall 
and a bathroom. 

On the evening of Thursday, March 31st, 1910, Miss 
Martha Blackstone, as was her frequent habit, went to 
dine and spend the evening with her friends on Round 
Hill, accompanying Miss Harriet Dow home after 
school. The hours until dinner were spent in pleasant 
chat about the school work and other matters. Dinner 
was served at six, and afterwards Miss Harriet and 
her mother washed the dishes and tidied the house. 
Then all four women gathered about a table in the back 
parlor to amuse themselves with one of the puzzle pic- 
tures which were all the rage at that time. Miss Har- 
riet Dow and her mother were sitting on a couch with 
the table drawn up in front of them, and Miss Lucy 


Dow and Miss Blackstone were sitting opposite them. 

They were pleasantly immersed in this game until 
the clock struck eight, when Miss Blackstone remarked 
that she must soon be returning home. About five min- 
utes later Miss Harriet Dow uttered a shriek^ and the 
others looked up to see a man standing in the doorway 
of the dining room. He wore a dark slouched hat 
pulled well down over his large, staring eyes. These 
were the only features clearly visible, as the lower part 
of his face was concealed by a black silk handkerchief. 
Afterwards they described him as a tall man, wear- 
ing a dark suit of clothes. He had a belt around his 
waist, from which was suspended a revolver-holster, 
but this they did not at first notice. 

The man approached them, motioning with his 
hands and arms, making an inarticulate, guttural noise 
and demanding money. Mrs. Dow told him that they 
had no money; and all the women sprang to their feet 
and screamed. On hearing the scream, the intruder 
darted across the room and, taking up his position in 
the archway between that room and the front parlor, 
drew his revolver and demanded quiet. Miss Black- 
stone rushed screaming past him into the front parlor; 
instantly the man fired at her and she fell against the 
couch in a kneeling position, shot through the heart. 

In the meantime Miss Lucy Dow had hastened to the 
telephone on the desk in the room where they had been 
sitting, but dropped the receiver at the sound of the 
shot and rushed into the front room in time to see Miss 
Blackstone fall. Her sister, screaming all the while, 
had also started to follow Miss Blackstone into the 
front parlor, but had slipped on a small rug in the 
archway and fallen. Her mother assisted her to her 


feet, urging her to be calm. Mrs. Dow then started 
to leave the room by the hall door to call for help ; 
Miss Harriet saw the man approach the window, ap- 
parently to draw the shade. She moved toward where 
he was standing and began to scream again; he swore 
at her, and told her to keep quiet, and she then saw him 
raise his revolver and point it at her mother as she was 
leaving the room. She seized a chair and hurled it at 
him, hitting the arm which held the revolver. Turn- 
ing upon her, he said, ''Do you want to die? Well, die 
then!" and discharged the revolver at her. She fell to 
the floor and lost consciousness, the bullet having 
grazed her head. 

Mrs. Dow appears to have been the only one of the 
four women who did not scream. She was an elderly 
woman in appearance, but young and alert in mind 
and action. After helping her daughter to regain her 
feet, she hurried upstairs in search of assistance, but 
found none of the Dwights at home. She escaped to 
the hall, opened the door and called loudly for their 
next door neighbor, Mr. Burnham. She heard a 
second shot fired and hurried back to the parlor, where 
she saw her daughter Harriet on the floor and Lucy 
at the telephone. The man was gone, and the front 
door was open as she had left it. She saw Miss Black- 
stone still kneeling beside the sofa with her face in her 
hands, and went at once to her; she drew the young 
woman's head into her lap and spoke to her; then 
she discovered that Miss Blackstone was dead, and she 
laid the body on the floor in front of the sofa. 

The burglar had evidently escaped by way of the 
front door, and there was nothing to be seen of him a 
few minutes later when their neighbor, Mr. Burnham, 


and his son reached the Dow house in response to Mrs. 
Dow's summons for help. 

Mr. Burnham immediately telephoned to Police 
Headquarters, and at 8.14 o'clock Inspector Costello 
reached the scene of the tragedy. The patrol wagon, 
on the way to Round Hill, bearing the detective, picked 
up Sergeant Littlefield and two other officers. Inspec- 
tor Costello and Sergeant Littlefield entered the house, 
where they found Miss Blackstone's body on the floor. 
Miss Lucy Dow and her mother asked the detective to 
ascertain if Miss Blackstone was still alive. He found 
no signs of life from the pulse; Miss Harriet Dow he 
found apparently living. 

Mr. Burnham sent in a trained nurse. Miss Ellison, 
who was at the time caring for a member of his family. 
She had heard the revolver shots soon after eight 
o'clock, and had looked out of the window from her 
patient's room where she was on duty, but had seen no 
sign of the tragedy until Mr. Burnham asked her to 
go over to the Dow house. She found Miss Dow lying 
on the floor, but conscious, and placed a sofa pillow 
under her bleeding head, and was about to give her a 
hypodermic when the physicians arrived. 

Dr. W. H. Wilcox was the first physician to reach 
the house. He sent for Medical Examiner Bates and 
Dr. Sweet, the family physician, and Dr. Bacon was 
summoned by telephone a little later. Miss Dow was 
taken in an ambulance to the Springfield Hospital, 
where she ultimately recovered from what was said to 
be a fractured skull. 

Miss Ellison said she went into the back room to pre- 
pare a bed for Miss Dow and while there locked the 


window through which the burglar had evidently 
entered. Apparently he had ransacked this room and 
then passed through the dining-room into the parlor. 
The Dows said later that there were articles of jewelry, 
including gold beads and pins, in a bureau which the 
burglar had rifled, two solid gold watches on a bureau 
in the other bedroom, a little old silver in a drawer be- 
neath the china closet in the dining-room, none of which 
he took. 

Of the crimes committed in Springfield during the 
two years prior to this affair, the following were attrib- 
uted to the one "burglar," and were afterwards proved 
to have been committed by the same man: 

On June 24th, 1908, while the family were sitting 
on the piazza, the house of Dr. Robert P. M. Ames, of 
26 Seventh Street, was entered by way of the cellar, the 
burglar cutting a screen door, so that he could reach 
through and open it from the inside. While he was 
ransacking the house, as was afterwards learned, the 
family came in and went to bed. The burglar had con- 
cealed himself beneath the bed of Mrs. Ames, where he 
remained until they went to sleep. Then he continued 
his search and escaped with his booty, without giving 
any alarm. The articles taken from this house were 
later recovered from beneath a shed in the Boston & 
Maine freight yard, and included jewelry, silverware, 
and one shoe of a pair — the other he had left, as also 
articles of considerable value. 

A month later, on July 25th, a man entered the house 
of George A. Luddington, at 29 Avon Place, through a 
back pantry window. He passed through the kitchen 


while Mr. and Mrs. Luddington were talking in the 
next room, entered a ground floor bedroom, and being 
disturbed, concealed himself beneath Mrs. Ludding- 
ton's bed. He waited there until he thought she was 
asleep, and then attempted to escape. She woke when 
he moved and as she sat up and screamed, he demanded 
money and jewelry and forced her to give him her rings 
and two dollars in money. She later let him out by 
the back door. 

The following night, July 26th, 1908, at the house of 
Fred D. Parsons in Union Street, a party were playing 
cards in a lighted room with unshuttered windows, and 
were held up by a masked man with a revolver, stand- 
ing in the dark outside. The party screamed and scat- 
tered — the threat to shoot was not carried out, and the 
incident was dismissed as of little importance — prob- 
ably a bad joke or the freak of a crank. 

A few days later, July 30th, 1908, entrance was 
gained to the house of Hartley P. Buxton, 93 Garfield 
Street, through a rear door that had been left unlocked 
while the family were on the porch. The burglar was 
interrupted and concealed himself when Mr. Buxton 
came in and entered the bathroom. He then continued 
his search and escaped before the family retired, taking 
his booty with him. 

On August 6th, 1908, a highwayman with a mask and 
revolver held up Michael J. Gilhooley, a motorman on 
the King Street car line at about half-past eight in the 
evening, at a lonely spot at the end of the route. O. D. 
Attwood, the conductor, saw the hold-up and escaped, 
but when Gilhooley also tried to escape the highway- 
man shot him through the leg, the bullet entering be- 
tween the knee and the thigh. The robber rifled his 


pockets and took his pocketbook, containing ninety- 
three cents. He seemed content with this small sum. 

On September 27th, 1908, the house of H. L. Miller 
of 32 Bradford Street was burglarized, and on No- 
vember 30th the house of Mrs. Frances E. Page at 17 
Sheldon Street was entered by way of a back bedroom 
window while the family were talking in the adjoining 
room. The burglar concealed himself in a clothes press 
and later under the bed. Mrs. Page and her daughter 
came into the room where the man was hiding, and the 
former went to bed; but before she fell asleep he made 
some slight noise which attracted her attention. She 
at once recalled her daughter, who lighted the lamp, 
placed it on the floor and discovered a man lying under 
the bed close to the wall. She had no view of his face, 
but said afterwards that he was ''long." He had on no 
coat nor vest, but she observed he wore moccasins. The 
two women held a considerable conversation about the 
intruder, but he did not budge. They then left the 
room to call for help, and when they returned a few 
minutes later, found that the burglar had scrambled 
out, opened a bureau drawer and helped himself to a 
bag containing forty dollars, besides other belongings 
which were of little value, and had escaped through 
an open window. When the police arrived they could 
find no trace of him. 

On Christmas Eve, 1908, Mrs. Helene J. Fiske was 
arranging Christmas gifts for her children on her bed 
in her home at 86 Calhoun Street, when she was con- 
fronted by a masked burglar who pointed a revolver at 
her. He started to pick up some of the more valuable 
presents, but Mrs. Fiske said "For God's sake don't 
take those — they are my children's!" "All right; I 


won't," said the polite burglar. She gave him two dol- 
lars and he also took some orange spoons and a napkin 

Nelson R. Hosley's house, at 22 Brookline Avenue, 
was entered in the early evening of March 12th, 1909, 
while the family were out. They returned at half-past 
ten and observed that a light had been made in the din- 
ing-room during their absence. Investigating, they 
found that miscellaneous articles were missing from the 
dining-room, chamber and closets. Miss Flora Sweet- 
land, who lived with the Hosleys, said later that the 
burglar had take about a hundred different articles of 
little or no value, such as handkerchiefs, ribbons, etc. 
She said: '*He took a number of little things that were 
on my bureau in my room that were practically value- 
less, and left my gold watch and other valuables that 
were right there in sight." 

On the evening of April 8th, 1909, a party were play- 
ing cards in a brightly lighted room in the house of 
Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Swan, at 50 Bellevue Avenue. 
At half-past nine, Mr. Swan was upstairs putting his 
little boy to bed, and the guests rose to take their leave. 
As they opened the front door a man thrust his way 
past them into the house and held up the group at the 
point of his revolver, demanding money. One of the 
ladies attempted to grab his arm and he fired several 
times, embedding two bullets in the woodwork. Mrs. 
Swan called to her husband not to come downstairs, 
and the burglar emphasized her warning by firing up 
the stairway and shattering an electric chandelier, leav- 
ing them in partial darkness. He grabbed one of the 
guests, a Mrs. Tapley, and demanded her rings. At 
this moment, however, Mr. Swan threw down a pocket- 


book containing some new bills, shouting to the burglar 
as he did so to get out. The burglar forced Mrs. Tapley 
to pick up the purse and then grabbed it and backed 
out of the house without waiting for the rings or count- 
ing the money. 

On April loth, 1909, the house of Ex-Alderman 
Arthur H. Rogers was entered by way of a side 
kitchen window. His daughter, Miss Dell Rogers, 
was confronted in her room by a masked man. He 
flashed a searchlight on her as she stood by the window 
and demanded money and jewelry. She attempted to 
scream for help, but the robber frightened her into 
silence with a curse, saying she had got to keep still 
"or I will blow your head off." He then said, "That 
was just the trouble at the other house — there was too 

much noise — that spoiled everything." Miss 

Rogers gave him a trinket and told him she thought 
there was no money in the house, but was finally forced 
at the point of a revolver to lead him downstairs to her 
mother's purse, which contained only two dollars. On 
the way downstairs the man entered the room of Miss 
Burt, Miss Rogers' aunt, an elderly lady; he did not 
disturb her beyond asking if she had any money and 
went away when she said she had none. He seemed 
perfectly fearless and even asked Miss Rogers where 
the men of the house were. The latter, fearing for her 
father's safety, declared they were not at home. After 
giving the man the money Miss Rogers started to pick 
up the telephone, but he made her put it down and 
grabbed the wire and snapped it out. He then took 
Miss Rogers into the kitchen, bound and gagged her 
and proceeded to rifle the sideboard of silverware, etc., 
after which he unbound Miss Rogers and made his 


escape, dropping the silverware outside when a call was 
made for help. 

The next burglary reported in Springfield which was 
attributed to the mysterious "burglar" was on July 21st, 
1909. Mr. Lewis J. Powers lived at 116 Pearl Street, 
only a few minutes' walk from the center of the city. 
His house was entered about 9.15 P. M. through a bath- 
room window. The lights were all burning, but the 
man proceeded fearlessly through the parlor, up the 
stairs, and searched several drawers and boxes in the 
rooms, but apparently did not find anything to his taste. 
Continuing through the brightly-lighted hall and up 
another flight of stairs to the third story, where the 
lights were also burning, he entered the room of one of 
the two maids, at the end of a long hall. She was sit- 
ting in her nightdress, reading a magazine, and looked 
up speechless when he asked, "Are you the hired girl 
here?" "Yes," she answered; and he looked through 
the open door into the next room, where a second maid 
was in bed. He told her to keep quiet and not say any- 
thing — that everything would be all right. She asked 
if she might get up and get into the other girl's bed. 
"Certainly," said the burglar. She came in and com- 
menced to cry with fright, but the man said, "Don't cry. 
I wouldn't harm a hair of your head. Just keep quiet 
and tell me all you know — where do they keep the 
jewelry, etc.?" She told him that no one was home 
except Mr. Powers. All the rest of the family had 
gone aw^ay, adding, "What there is is downstairs." 
"Where?" said the burglar; and she replied, "I don't 
know as to that." He then inquired if there was any 
jewelry in the house and she said she did not think there 
was and that she knew of no money except what she 


had. He refused to take her money; then hearing a 
noise he inquired, "What is that noise?" and she said 
Mr. Powers had been downstairs a little while before. 
"There was nobody there when I came up," said the 
burglar. "He must have come back, then," said the 
girl. She asked permission to lock the door when he 
left, and he said, "Yes, you can lock it, but don't make 
a sound." She promised silence, and he said, "All right; 
I will take your word for it," and departed. He pro- 
ceeded directly downstairs to Mr. Powers' room. Mr. 
Powers was packing his valise for a journey. The 
burglar commanded him to throw up his hands, point- 
ing a large revolver at him and saying, "I want your 
money." Mr. Powers denied that he had any money, 
but offered the man a little change — less than $5 in all. 
He then inquired if there was any jewelry in the house, 
but upon being answered in the negative, he said, "All 
right," and started out by the front way. Shortly after- 
wards he returned and demanded to be let out the back 
way. Finding the door locked, Mr. Powers let him 
out of a window onto the back porch, whence he safely 
made his escape. 

This crime had all the hall-marks of the others: — 
the early hour, the fearless masked man with a revolver 
and the lack of sufficient motive for even the apparent- 
ly casual intrusion. It gave a fresh panic to the public, 
who had fancied the strange burglar already arrested 
or scared away. 

Two weeks later, on August 6th, Mr. and Mrs. H. 
M. Ripley, of 266 Union Street, were encountered in 
their bedroom at eleven o'clock as they were about to 
retire by a masked man who was afterwards found to 
have entered the house by a ladder, which had been left 


against a near-by tree and which he had used to effect 
an entrance through a second story window. Mrs. Rip- 
ley saw him first and he cautioned her to be quiet. He 
then held them up, demanding money, but is said to 
have refused Mr. Ripley's watch which was all he had 
in his possession. The man returned a $2.50 gold piece 
which Mrs. Ripley offered him, on being told it was a 
"pocket piece." He made no further demands, but 
stopped and chatted pleasantly with Mr. and Mrs. Rip- 
ley for more than half an hour, discussing himself and 
his "profession," and then went off as he had come, re- 
moving the ladder after he had descended. Here was 
material for a very fair idea of the personality of the 
man, though it proved no clue to his identity. 

It was a month before he ventured another burglary, 
which proved, financially, the most successful of the 
series. On September the fourth he entered an apart- 
ment at 6 Salem Street, belonging to Miss Eva D. Tes- 
sier, again through a bathroom window. Miss Tessier 
was out at the time, but encountered him on her return. 
A tussle ensued, but he finally subdued her by threaten- 
ing her with his revolver, and forced her to give him 
all the money she had in the house, sixty dollars, and 
departed by the window through which he had entered. 
A week later. Miss Tessier thought she saw the same 
man on Main Street, but before she could give the 
alarm he had disappeared. 

This was the last break generally attributed to the 
mysterious man, previous to the murder; though on 
September 23rd a man was discovered attempting to 
enter the home of Atkins E. Blair, at 66 School Street, 
by a ladder placed against the roof of a bay window. 



He escaped before the alarm could be given. As will 
be seen later, this flight led to his undoing. 

Not only the city of Springfield and the State of 
Massachusetts, but the entire country, were stirred by 
the accounts of the mysterious and apparently motive- 
less crime at the Dow house. The papers for days after 
the murder of Miss Blackstone contained mainly lead- 
ing articles and editorials describing the crime in its 
minutest details and expressing the terror of the people 
of Springfield. 

The Springfield Republican of April 2nd, 1910, 
voiced the feeling of the community in the following 
editorial : 


The fearful tragedy in the Dow house on Round Hill has stirred 
the city mightily. Nothing has happened among us in years so terribly 
upsetting of the feeling of all security for life in the one place where 
it is to be expected — in the quiet and protection of one's habitation. 
Its effect is to create a reign of terrorism, particularly among the 
women, which is worse, in a way, than any that might have affected 
the early settlers of this region in relation to the Indians. They had 
the advantage of living all the time in full recognition of danger from 
a known and clearly designated source and of being individually pre- 
pared to keep themselves on guard to meet it. But not so with us and 
our civilization ; we have thrown down all individual guard, and com- 
mitted our security for life and property to constituted community 
agents. Such few enemies as we have walk unknown in our midst. 
Our homes are no longer castles of stockaded groups to ward off 
exterior dangers. Any of them can be entered with little difficulty, 
and in spite of all ordinary precautions ; and it must be so. Our reli- 
ance for protection is and must be upon those especially appointed 
for the purpose. 

If this dreadful murder and attempted robbery were an isolated 
happening — one of those chance occurrences against which no amount 
of care and preparation and police efficiency could guard, it would 
be of little use to do more than shudder and comfort the afflicted and 


go about our business. But unfortunately such is evidently not the 
case. This bloody event follows in a long series of terrorizing inva- 
sions of homes. Robberies and masked hold-ups within the home, any 
one of which might have ended in bloodshed and murder, had there 
been the slightest disposition manifested to resist the invasion or scare 
off the intruder. There is good reason to believe that the miserable 
imp of Hell who, in unspeakable cowardice, attacked these defenceless 
women and shot them down, is the same person who for more than 
a year has been creeping into other houses in the city, masked and 
armed, and demanding money of men and women at the point of a 
revolver. He is clearly a man who makes robbery and possible mur- 
der a diversion rather than an occupation, for his gains of money are 
small, while his activities stretch over a long period. He is doubtless 
regularly employed at a legitimate occupation. He may even be 
known as a faithful workman and law-abiding citizen. He may, in 
this case, have only just left his place of employment to give puzzling 
and terrorizing variety to his hours of toil by indulging his devilish 
propensity, which has thus far spared no part of the city or no time 
of twilight or darkness, no home on any account either of the defence- 
less character of the occupants or otherwise. And he still continues at 
large, as for a year or more past, ready to pounce in upon some ether 
home with evil purposes and a bloody determination. This man must 
be found and put out of the way. He has been suffered to roam 
about altogether too long. The police are doubtless doing their best 
to apprehend him. We may not lightly throw the blame all on them. 
They can not be expected to master every mysterious development of 
crime at the wave of the hand. They would be less open to unwar- 
ranted public criticism were it not that the administration of the 
service had been overturned in the name of needed reform for greater 
efficiency in the suppression of crime — and overturned for such an 
end, which is not now for the first time brought to public ridicule. 
But here is a case of crime whose safe persistence would under any 
circumstances call loudly for explanation in harmony with an efficient 
police establishment. It is bringing into all our homes a terrorism 
that is not to be endured forever in any constituency with the pros- 
perity and growth of this city. If the word is not to go forth to every 
householder, "Arm yourself and stand guard through the night," this 
case must be hunted down to an ending. 

In the same issue of the Republican, the leading 
article, four columns long, describes the public excite- 
ment, and says: 

Not within memory have the people of Springfield been so pro- 
foundly shocked as they were yesterday by the wanton murder of 


Miss Martha B. Blackstone ... by a burglar or crack-brained 
degenerate. . . . Miss Harriet P. Dow, a teacher in the same school, 
whose skull was fractured by a bullet from the burglar's revolver, 
will probably recover, but her condition is critical and there is no 
certainty of a favorable outcome. The murderer is still at large and 
the police have so little to work upon that not much confidence is 
felt by the public that the capture will be made. Meanwhile the 
citizens are in such a frame of mind, of mingled horror and indigna- 
tion, that they are disposed to hold the police department strictly 
accountable for results, for they feel that this tragedy is the culmination 
of a long series of outrages which the police have shown inability to 
deal with. Rightly or wrongly, the citizens are blaming the police 
for failure to capture the man who has committed the preceding 
atrocities. Public feeling was boiling yesterday, and resulted in a 
movement for a mass meeting for the purpose of seeing what the citi- 
zens want done about it. Business men yesterday requested the Board 
of Trade to arrange for such a meeting. All citizens are requested 
to be present and express their views. . . . 

The state of the public imagination is well typified 
in the following extract from the same paper: 

Members of the detective bureau are convinced that the murder 
of Miss Blackstone and the attack on Miss Dow were committed by 
the same man who perpetrated the half dozen robberies last year. 
This man lives in Springfield and was brought to Police Headquarters 
for purposes of identification following each of last year's hold-ups. 
He was seen by Capt. Boyle yesterday, but was not taken into custody 
for the simple reason that the detectives have always met with the 
same result in questioning him. He is described as about five feet ten 
inches tall, of medium build, smooth face and good looking. Further- 
more he is about 32 years old, a college graduate, and a man who 
appears to have plenty of money, because he does not work for a 
living. He has among his possessions a black slouch hat, a black 
handkerchief mask, a blue steel 38-caliber revolver and holster. His 
eyes and presence are said to resemble those of the man who has been 
terrifying the city. Every time the police have questioned him, he 
has answered questions with few words, nearly always giving the 
information asked for and nothing more. The police say that he 
volunteers nothing and when cornered simply says he does not care 
to answer. 

It will be remembered that most of those whose houses were entered 
by the burglar last year said that he was good looking, had the soft 
hands of a man of leisure and spoke like one who had received the 
benefits of an education. His coolness in every case was equalled by 


his fearlessness and his utter disregard of consequences was always 

Several other cases were cited which show the state 
of strain under which both police and citizens were 
laboring. The history of the public excitement and 
futile search are well summed up in the headlines of 
the two most prominent columns of the Springfield 
Republican of April 3rd. This paper is so seldom 
given to sensationalism that the prominence it gives to 
this affair is very significant of the importance the 
search for this criminal had even in conservative circles 
at that time. 



Mass Meeting of Citizens Trail Lost at Longmeadow 


Meeting of Board of Aldermen Further Efforts Prove Futile 

City to Offer $500 and Gov. Marvellous Display of Blood- 
Draper Offers $500 of State's hounds' Powers in Crowded 
Money — Large Subscription Thoroughfares — Scent is 
from Citizens — No Definite Picked up Outside of Window 
Clew to the Murderer Except Where Murderer of Miss 
that Given by the Bloodhounds Blackstone Entered Dow 
— Sensational Developments of House on Round Hill — Dogs 
the Day Cause a High Pitch are Tried at Thompsonville 
of Excitement. and Warehouse Point. 

At the mass meeting $1,500 was raised in five minutes 
and confidence was expressed that the subscriptions 
started at the public mass meeting would reach $5,000, 
all but $1,500 of which was to be used as financial aid 
to the police authorities. A committee of citizens was 
appointed with absolute authority to spend this money 


as they might see fit. They immediately engaged Pin- 
kerton detectives and set them to work on the case. "The 
three rewards offered," says the Republican, "aggre- 
gate $2500, and if a reward should be any inducement, 
this amount should at least serve to uncover some clew 
that will lead to some definite knowledge of the mur- 
derer's whereabouts." 

Many columns of the papers of that day are given 
to the description of the dramatic attempt to follow the 
murderer with bloodhounds. A fine pair of these ani- 
mals had been brought all the way from Poughkeepsie, 
New York, and they were immediately taken to the 
scene of the accident, and every effort made to put 
them on the right scent. 

Somewhat to the surprise of the police and public, who did not 
expect much from the man-hunters, owing to the time that had 
elapsed since the tragedy, says the Republican, the dogs took up a 
scent which the police believe was that of the murderer himself, and 
they followed it from the piazza of the Dow house on Round Hill, 
straight through the city, past Pecowsic to Longmeadow, where it 
was lost at a white trolley post. This gave birth to the theory that 
the murderer had there boarded a car and proceeded still southerly. 
Not satisfied that this performance of the bloodhounds could be 
depended upon, the dogs were brought again to the Dow house, and 
once more went out on the scent, this time picked out in a different 
way. The big, muscular animals could not be deceived, however, 
and, noses pointed to the earth, they began the journey over again. 
This time they travelled the same route, and at the same corner of 
Main Street were pulled off to await further developments. 

As the coming of the hounds had been well adver- 
tised in the newspapers of the day before, great crowds 
were gathered along their route, and they caused much 
sensation as they passed through the city. Later, when 
the actual criminal had been discovered, he confessed 
to having patted these animals in the street! At 7.30 
that evening the hounds made a third trial, repeating 


the same course as that of the morning, but in the end 
these efforts led to no clue. 

There were so few clues to work upon that many 
persons, some of them of wealth and position, were 
under suspicion, and these suspicions are somewhat 
freely referred to in the papers, indicating that the 
police recognized that these crimes were not the work 
of a professional burglar. At the request of the local 
authorities, District Attorney Stephen H. Taft sum- 
moned two State detectives, Thomas E. Bligh from 
Pittsfield and James McKay from Northampton, both 
of whom went directly to work, after taking up the sev- 
eral phases of the case with Police Captain Boyle and 
the local detectives. To continue quoting from the 
Republican of April 3rd: 

Not in a generation has public sentiment been so thoroughly 
aroused. Members of the police department who have been longest 
in the service say that never have they seen Springfield so demonstra- 
tive. Yesterday was sensational enough in the murder case develop- 
ments. . . . The inability of the police to effect the capture of the 
murderer, the picturesque appearance of the bloodhounds following 
the supposed trail down through the main street of the city, the mass 
meeting, the announcement by bulletins that thousands of dollars had 
been raised by the State, the city government and the business men of 
the municipality, for the purpose of bringing to justice a degenerate 
who kills without provocation, have served to create a feeling that is 
new to Springfield and appalling. It may have reached its crisis 
yesterday, but it is hardly likely the strain will relax until the mur- 
derer is caught. 

The following proclamation was issued by the Gov- 
ernor of Massachusetts: 


Being of opinion that the public good so requires, the Common- 
wealth will pay the sum of $500 to any person who, in consequence 
of this offer, apprehends and secures the person who murdered 


Martha B. Blackstone at the home of Mrs. Sarah J. Dow in Spring- 
field, on Thursday evening, March 31st. This offer is made because, 
in my opinion, the person can not be arrested and secured in the 
common course of proceeding. 

Eben S. Draper. 
Executive Chamber, April 2nd, 19 10. 

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of 
Springfield also passed an order, offering a reward of 
$500 for information that would lead to the arrest and 
conviction of the murderer. 

During all this time of uncertainty, it will be ob- 
served that public opinion attributed the murder to 
the same man who had perpetrated the burglaries and 
other mysterious crimes of the preceding two years, 
and that in most surmises as to his identity the theory 
that these crimes could not have been committed by 
a normal man was clearly stated. The following analy- 
sis from the same issue of the Springfield Republican 
is significant, in the light of subsequent events: 

A question that is being asked every\\'here is "What kind of man 
is the burglar and murderer?" It is of great importance in the efforts 
to find him to know the answer, for in the absence of anything like 
a definite clew, it is about all the police have to work upon. The 
nature of the young man's crimes indicates clearly that he is not a 
professional burglar. His methods, while spectacular, are crude. 
Moreover, as has been clearly shown by the record of the burglaries 
and hold-ups charged to this man, booty has not been the chief con- 
sideration. Most of those who have studied the case believe that 
the man is animated by a mania or craving for sensationalism. It is 
generally believed that he is a degenerate, but of an unusual sort, for 
in all cases where women have been terrorized and held helpless no 
personal indignities have been offered them,* and the police have been 
obliged to look for a moral pervert of another sort. This man has 
seemed contented with the mere terrorizing of women. 

The police are able to classify most professional burglars, but the 
work of this man does not come within the range of their experience. 

* Later it was stated that there were one or two exceptions to this latter 


He enters houses and reveals himself at hours when an ordinary bur- 
glar would not be seen, and his readiness to fire at Miss Blackstone 
is, in itself, evidence that he is not a professional, for a professional 
never fires unless he thinks it absolutely necessary for his safety. It is 
necessary, then, to consider the Springfield burglar as an amateur — 
a fool who is hungering for notoriety, an insane person with a periodic 
mania for desperate deeds, or a degenerate of some sort. 

It is held that the man is either a degenerate or is subject to a 
mania. It is not believed that he is an ordinary street loafer, for if 
he had been it is thought that before now he would have given him- 
self away. It is more probable that he is a young man regularly 
employed in the city, or a member of some family of means who is 
not dependent upon the proceeds of his robberies. This theory is 
strongly held by the police, who have had under suspicion from time 
to time men who are employed regularly and others who are ne'er-do- 
well sons of families who are in comfortable circumstances. The 
meager descriptions from the various houses, which tally very well 
as far as they go, point to a person of this sort. There are, of course, 
thousands of young men who answer the description. The burglar 
has evidently been close-mouthed about all his exploits. 

We shall see how nearly true these surmises were, 
and how reluctant these clever analysts were to continue 
their argument as to the criminal's irresponsibility, 
after the actual culprit was found and their prophecies 
had been proven correct. The popular clamor for 
vengeance was too strong. 

On the evening of September 23rd, 1909, it will be 
remembered, an attempt had been made to enter the 
house of Mr. Atkins E. Blair at 66 School Street. A 
man was dimly seen attempting to reach a second story 
window by way of a ladder placed against the side of 
the house — first by Mr. Blair's father-in-law, Mr. 
Simons. This old gentleman, being apparently of a 
cautious and somewhat secretive disposition, did not 
immediately give the alarm. A few minutes later, Mr. 
Blair himself saw the would-be intruder, who instantly 
retreated. Blair tried to follow him in the darkness, 
but the man escaped by running across the garden. 



through some tall dahlia stalks and over a bed of asters, 
over a fence and into the rear of the barn of the next 
neighbor, Mr. Packard, from whom he had borrowed 
the ladder, and thence probably into High Street, 
where he could easily escape detection among other 

Mr. Simons was something of a horticulturist. The 
very next morning he went into his flower garden to 
work, and in the midst of a bed of asters he found a 
tiny gold locket, inscribed with the initials ^'B.G.S." 
in interlocking monogram on one side, and a little bril- 
liant on the other. He picked it up and found within 
the pictures of an elderly woman and a younger one. 
He put the locket in his pocket and later showed it to 
the rest of the family. 

The burglaries in this immediate neighborhood had 
become so frequent that several of the householders 
concerned got together to discuss the situation. These 
were Mr. Simons and his son-in-law Mr. Blair, Ex- 
Alderman Arthur H. Rogers, whose house on Temple 
Street had been entered the previous spring, and Mr. 
Robert A. Knight who lived next to Mr. Rogers. Mr. 
Simons showed these men the locket, and they procured 
directories, telephone lists and poll lists, and all the 
names beginning with "S" in these and every other 
available list were searched to find the owner of the 
initials ''B.G.S." To their surprise, only one person 
was found whose name corresponded to these initials, 
Bertram G. Spencer, whose address was given as 53 
Greenwich Street. As this man was listed as a brake- 
man in the employ of the Boston & Maine R. R., and 
as his residence was in a quiet, respectable neighbor- 
hood, no suspicion was attached to him at that time, 


and little more was done about the matter. Mr. Simons 
put the locket back into his pocket and refused to allow 
it to be given to the police, as he said he had little faith 
in their efficiency, and he probably feared to be the 
means of getting an innocent man under suspicion. He 
refused to permit his friends to tell the story of the 
finding of the locket. Mr. Knight, however, went to 
Chief Quilty, and advised him when searching for the 
burglar to look out for a man whose initials were 
"B.G.S.," whose mother was a rather stout woman 
and who had either a young wife or a sister. As he 
did not feel at liberty to give his reason for making 
this suggestion. Chief Quilty paid little attention to 
it, though when Mr. Knight telephoned later he was 
informed that the Chief had turned the matter over to 
Inspector Boyle, and that it had been looked into but 
that nothing had come of it. Mr. Knight heard no 
more from the police, and let the matter drop. The 
detective fund was not raised at that time, as a report 
had been spread that a certain person who had informa- 
tion was waiting for a reward to be offered. 

But when the Pinkerton detectives were called in 
after the Blackstone murder, Mr. Simons finally con- 
sented to give up the locket, and it was placed in the 
detectives' hands on the Saturday evening preceding 
the arrest. A search of the directories led them to the 
same Bertram G. Spencer, whose address was given 
as 53 Greenwich Street, where it was found he had 
formerly boarded with a Mrs. Edgar C. Pierce. Mrs. 
Pierce, on being shown the enlarged photographs 
which had been made from the portraits in the locket, 
immediately said they were Spencer's mother and sis- 
ter. Proceeding on her information, the detectives 



traced Spencer to his new address at 45 Porter Avenue, 
West Springfield, near the Old Toll Bridge, where he 
was living with his wife and son; and they found that 
he was working for H. L. Handy & Co. They kept 
him under surveillance for several days before arrest- 
ing him. Porter Avenue is a thoroughfare that turns 
down to the left just beyond the Springfield Glazed 
Paper Factory at the end of the Old Toll Bridge. It 
is about a hundred yards long, and runs parallel to the 
Connecticut River. No. 45, where Spencer lived, was 
described as being one of fifteen houses, all built flush 
with the street and without any front lawns. It was a 
two and a half story detached house, with dormer win- 
dows and a roofed porch extending across the front 
of the house. A few straggling vines made a half- 
hearted attempt to climb up the pillars of the porch. 
The house was owned by a German, a cousin of Spen- 
cer's wife. The other residents of the street were all 
foreigners, for the most part Italians. 

The account given by the Springfield Republican of 
the details of Spencer's arrest shows the extraordinary 
precautions of the police. It is too long to be quoted 
here in full, but according to this account Spencer was 
arrested on Tuesday, April 5th. He had been under 
suspicion since the previous Saturday, and his house 
had been watched by Detective Leith, one of the Pin- 
kerton men employed by the Citizens' Committee. At 
2.30 A. M. Captain Boyle was notified that the police 
were sure of their man and were only waiting for day- 
light to come before arresting him. The Republican 
continues the account: 

Fearing the publication of such a report, Capt. Boyle got together 
the local and state detectives and the three Pinkerton men, and started 


out at once to bring in the man who later proved to be Spencer. All 
of the officers, including Capt. Boyle, Inspectors Raiche and St. 
Ledger, State Detectives Thomas E. Bligh, James McKay and Fred 
Flynn and the Pinkerton men, Harry A. Naughton and H. J. 
Murray, started across the Old Toll Bridge for Spencer's house on 
Porter Avenue, where Leith had been on guard. They remained in 
the vicinity of the house until about daylight (nine men in all!). 
Then with Bligh, Leith and Flynn, Capt. Boyle came back to the 
city to await near the Handy plant the arrival of Spencer, who would 
come to work at seven in the morning. Naughton, Murray, McKay, 
Raiche and St. Ledger remained near the Spencer house, concealed in 
the office of the Springfield Glazed Paper Company nearby. About 
6:30 Spencer came out of the house and started for work across the 
toll bridge. Naughton and Murray shadowed Spencer clear to the 
Handy factory, where he was met by Capt. Boyle, Leith, Flynn and 
Bligh, who immediately placed him under arrest. Beyond appearing 
surprised and apparently confused at this turn of affairs, Spencer was 
little disturbed, and accompanied the officers to Police Headquarters 
without protest. The early reports of resistance were unfounded. 
Before leaving the Handy Plant, however, Capt. Boyle telephoned to 
the office of the Glazed Paper Company and had McKay, Raiche and 
St. Ledger search the house and bring in whatever might be found 
there that was of an incriminating nature. 

Surely this demonstration of the majesty of the law 
was as melodramatic as even the ''romantic vanity fed 
on penny dreadfuls" could desire 1 

Spencer willingly acknowledged that the locket was 
his, but explained that he had lost it some time ago — 
he did not know just when — running across lots to fol- 
low the patrol wagon. 

In the itemized list of jewelry found in Spencer's 
house were included 105 pieces of varying value. The 
first seven items are watches, valued at from $3 to $25, 
No. 8 is "part of a brooch, pansy shape, with small 
diamond;" No. 9 "Emblem pin, D. A. R., engraved 
'Esther Julia Pratt No. 24121,'" identified as taken 
fr m the house of Dr. C. S. Pratt of Brattleboro. There 
were rings, brooches, bracelets, etc., more than half of 
them plated and only one or two valued as high as $10 



or $15. Many of them were practically worthless, as 
the D. A. R. pin. The list included, for instance: 

19 — Plated hoop bracelet Value $0.50 

28 — I pr. plated nut link buttons " none 

33 — Gold scarf pin, four small pearls, center stone cut " i.oo 

34 — Plated nut scarf pin " .25 

35 — Plated scarf pin with imitation jade " .25 

36 — Plated scarf pin with ruby doublet, bonnet effect ** .50 

39 — Plated three-heart brooch, twined " .50 

40 — Small plated charm with Lord's Prayer ** none 

41 — Plated clasp pin " " 

43 — Chatelaine pin, lady's face with wings " .50 

44 — Small medallion brooch — plated " ,50 

53 — I hoop silver signet top, old English "L" " " 

47 — Plated old-style oval locket, fancy front, plain back ** none 

54 — I signet plated hat pin " .50 

55 — Ivory carved charm, bull's head " .50 

56 — Porcelain brooch — lady's face and bust — plated 

back " .25 

57 — Plated scarf pin — imitation pearl " none 

58 — Plated ring with imitation pearl ** .50 

61 — Plated ring with ruby doublet " none 

64 — Pair of porcelain brooches, flower pattern " .25 

65 — Small class pin, "B.B.S. '07" on it " none 

66 — Plated bar pin, engraved front " " 

67 — 3 mother of pearl brooches, safety pin backs. ..." " 

70 — Old collar supporter, imitation pearls " " 

71 — Plated guard chain, fox-tail pattern, with beads. . " " 

72 — Piece of plated rope chain " " 

73 — Silver brooch, imitation amethyst " " 

75 — Silver key ring " .25 

77 — Top of black comb with white stones " none 

78 — Silver, diamond shaped class pin, blue enamel "V.S." " " 
80 — Three small charms hung together — plated meat 

cleaver, carver and sharpener " " 

81 — Single stone, plated ring, imitation turquoise. . . " " 
82 — Plated five-stone ring, imitation turquoise, i stone 

missing " " 

83 — String of red glass beads " " 

84 — Plated back collar button " " 

87 — Plated scarf pin, leaf ** " 

88— Pair of dumb-bell cuff buttons " " 

89 — ^ pr. link cuf¥ buttons, plated " " 

go «< «« " <« <« «< «< (I 


91 — Plated fleur-de-lys watch pin Value none 


92 — Flat sterling hoop "Mizpah" bracelet. 

94 — Pin, triangle, Y.M.C.A. style, 

95— Key ring 

98 — I cameo spiral stud 

99 — Old style shirt button 

100 — I plated stud button 

lOi — 14 pr. cuff links 

102 — I collar button, pearl back. . . . 
103 — I " " silver back . . . 
105 — Indian bead belt 


The Springfield Republican on April 6th, the day 
after Spencer's arrest, was evidently still of the opinion 
that he was not a normal man. It comments on the 
arrest as follows: 

Nothing is more difficult for the police to deal with than a casual 
murder when the criminal has once made his escape. If hate or 
love or jealousy or envy is at the bottom of the crime, there is 
usually a palpable clew, leading straight to the guilty man. . . . Or, 
if professional criminals are concerned, there is usually someone wait- 
ing hungrily for the blood money. A crime committed at random, on 
the contrary, upon a stranger, by a single person with no accom- 
plices and no motives peculiar to himself, is a very different matter. 
. . . The burglary that ended in murder was the eighth offence 
which general opinion ascribed to one criminal or monomaniacj 
and however possible it may be for a miscreant to hide after a single 
offence, a series of similar crimes is a different matter. Their 
effect is cumulative. Each adds a little to the picture of the 
guilty man. . . . Clews? How could there not be, when at least 
eight people had seen the marauder clearly enough to swear to 
his identity — when several had had long conversations with him, 
when police and public alike had a true notion of his appearance 
and personality. Once he was seen and recognized in daylight by 
one of his victims, but made good his escape before a policeman could 
be called to the spot. In short, all the materials for detection, 
perhaps for conviction were in existence. . . . How many crimes 
went before the one that ended in murder can not be definitely 
said. Perhaps only their perpetrator has a complete list, but enough 
are known to give him as definite a stamp as any Claude Duval or 
Dick Turpin. In each was a kind of wantonness, a daredevil 
bravado, a love of the spectacular and a lack of pecuniary calculation 
which strongly suggested either the monomania of an unbalanced 


mind or a romantic vanity fed on penny dreadfuls, excited to the 
point of imitating Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman. . . . The house 
seemingly was taken at random. . . . He seemed to care little 
about money, demanding it, apparently, as a part of the role he 
was playing. It is not altogether surprising that crime of so queer 
and melodramatic a sort should not at first have been taken alto- 
gether seriously by the public. . . . 

The Republican here chronicles at length various 
crimes attributed to this burglar, all of which were 
typical of the man's work. When the Round Hill mur- 
der occurred the circumstances were so clearly stamped 
with his methods that few people doubted that it be- 
longed to the same series of outrages. 

"All the circumstances were the same," says the Republican, "the 
tactics of the robber, his appearance, his eccentricities, correspond 
exactly. But for Miss Blackstone's demonstration, which upset his 
plans and prevented him from holding the family terrorized under 
his pistol in the fashion which he had seemingly enjoyed in previous 
raids, it is likely that the case would have ended like the others, with 
a flourish of a long pistol, a modest levy of ready money and a polite 
burglar backing off into the night. Evidently the burglar lost his 

Continuing, the Republican suggests that perhaps a nervous spasm 
plunged him into this new infamy. 

Upon his arrest Spencer was taken to police head- 
quarters. He was compelled all that day to pass 
through the terrible ordeal of being subjected to at- 
tempts at identification by his supposed victims. He 
denied any connection with the burglaries or with the 
murder, but many of those who had been burglarized 
within the last two years were able to recognize him, 
so as to leave no doubt as to his identity, and they found 
among the articles taken from his room various trinkets 
which they recognized as theirs — some of them of so 
little value that they had not previously missed them. 

Late in the day Mrs. Dow and her daughter came 


to identify him, and they also found, with his other 
booty, the pearl pin which had been taken from their 
home on the night of the murder of Miss Blackstone, 
and Miss Dow was surprised to find an Indian bead 
belt which a friend had made for her and which she 
had not previously missed from among her possessions. 

All day Spencer continued to protest his innocence 
and told various stories to account for his having the 
stolen trinkets in his possession. He said he had pur- 
chased the bead belt from an Indian woman at the sta- 
tion at Albuquerque, New Mexico, on his way home 
from California, and that he had paid fifty cents for it. 
But that night his rest was disturbed by the cries of a 
supposed drunken prisoner in a near-by cell, who kept 
accusing him of the murder of Miss Blackstone and 
repeated that Mrs. Dow and her daughter had identi- 
fied him as the murderer. Was it possible that the ac- 
cusations were made by imaginary "voices" which 
Bertram alone heard? 

In the middle of the night State Detective Flynn was 
sent for and came to the cell where Spencer was con- 
fined. Spencer had complained of headache all day, 
and the city physician, Dr. Boyer, had prescribed bro- 
mides for him, to be administered every two hours. 
Flynn said that at this time Spencer seemed very tired 
and complained of a violent headache — "a tired head- 
ache." Flynn advised him to put his wrists under 
water and bathe his head, which he did, and then said 
he felt better. Spencer said to him, "Mr. Flynn, is it 
true — what this drunken fellow in one of the cells has 
been crying out — that Mrs. Dow has identified me as 
the murderer of Miss Blackstone?" Flynn replied, 
"I can't answer that question, Mr. Spencer." 


Captain Boyle came to Spencer's cell the next morn- 
ing at eight o'clock. Spencer said, "I want to talk with 
you, and talk with you alone." Boyle took him to the 
detention room, closed the steel door, and at Spencer's 
request, also closed the transom. Spencer then said 
that he wanted to tell Mr. Boyle his whole life story, 
saying: *'If your conscience troubled you as much as 
mine did all night, you would want to tell your story 
to somebody. You can tell who you wish, or testify 
at any time you wish." He then began and told Capt. 
Boyle that when he was a small boy his father used to 
beat him severely and on one occasion had struck him 
with the butt end of a whip over the head, broken the 
whip stock and left him lying in his own blood. He 
said his mother found him there and supposed that he 
was dead. He told of stealing a jackknife when a little 
boy, and said that since that time he had stolen from 
every place he had been in all over the country. He 
then made a full confession of the Blackstone murder, 
which he repeated two days later to a stenographer. 

In answer to Captain Boyle's questions he said that 
on Thursday, March 31st, he had left home about 
seven; he took the West Springfield trolley car and got 
of¥ at Round Hill Bridge, near the watering tank, and 
he went directly to the Dow House. (In talking to the 
detectives he said he had not had any particular place 
in view when he started out.) 

"I had on my everyday pants and my best coat and 
vest, an overcoat and my derby hat. I went to the win- 
dows first to see if they were open." Finding one of 
them unlocked, he then went around back of the shed 
and removed his overcoat, hat and inside coat and took 
ofif his shoes. "I put on my mask, my black handker- 


chief and my black felt hat, and went into the house 
through the window in the rear bedroom. I opened the 
door — I didn't know what it was — whether it went into 
the kitchen or where it went. I see it went into a closet 
— there were clothes hanging there. I had my search- 
light. Then I went to the drawer, opened it and looked 
for jewelry, and found a pin brooch, and there was a 
little blue stone and a bead belt. I went right through 
into the dining-room, and from the dining-room into 
the parlor. There were four women there. As I went 
into the door I stopped and looked around, and as I 
was looking around one of them saw me and screamed 
and jumped to her feet, and at that they all jumped 
to their feet. I says — I think I said, 'I want your 
money,' and at that they all screamed. I hadn't touched 
my gun even then — I hadn't thought of my gun. My 
revolver was in my holster at my left side. I advanced 
toward them open-handed, and they commenced to 
scream and one started toward the door and two, I 
think, came toward me ; one grabbed me ; the other lady 
took a chair — raised a chair over her head, and they 
were all screaming at the same time, and something — • 
kind of a blank — appeared to me there, the same as if 
I could hear voices in every direction, and I was so ex- 
cited that the only thing I could think of was to shoot to 
scare somebody — to get out. I grabbed my gun and — 
bang! bang! — like that — and started toward the door, 
and there was a woman right there near the door and 
she was screaming, and I pushed her aside and the door 
was open and I run out to the stoop — the front piazza — 
and over the railing and around the building to where 
my coat and hat was, and my shoes. I took them and 
ran down through the woods until I got to a big chest- 


nut tree on the side of the hill. I sat down and put my 
shoes on and my coat and hat, and went down over a 
fence, through a yard and out onto Main Street, oppo- 
site Bancroft. From there I went down Main Street 
to Church, where I saw Jim . . . Dowling, I think his 
name is, standing at the telephone box. He is an officer. 
I went down Church Street as far as Chestnut, up north 
to Carew, Carew to Chestnut, Chestnut to Bridge and 
Bridge home. I arrived between a quarter past eight 
and a quarter to nine — I think that was the time. I 
went into my room, took my things off, got out my gun 
and started to clean it. I found two empty shells, 
cleaned the gun and reloaded it and placed it under 
the head of my bed — under the pillow — I always keep 
it there. After my wife had gone to bed, I put the 
black hat in the stove — I think I left the black hand- 
kerchief out in the hall." Spencer continued that he 
had gone to bed somewhere around 9.30 and had slept 
with his wife — had slept soundly. He said he had 
taken the pearl pin and the belt from the Dow house, 
and he also described "a little mottled stone — a mixed 
colored stone," which he had found there and which 
Miss Dow had not missed, though it was later found 
among his things and identified by her. He said he had 
never known the Dows and did not know that he had 
once boarded under the same roof with them. 

One can hardly believe that a normal man, suffi- 
ciently frightened, under such circumstances, to fire in- 
to a group of helpless women, could be so relieved by 
the explosion that he could collect himself sufficiently 
to remember to get his clothing and cover his tracks — 
and certainly no one, however hardened to crime, could 
have been so free from fear of consequences as to sleep 


soundly after committing such an act, if he had any 
real comprehension of the seriousness of his ofifence. 

Spencer then confessed to the fifteen burglaries in 
Springfield which we have previously described. In 
recounting the alTfair at the Swan house he said, "I tried 
to get in the windows at that house, and there was every 
one of them locked, so I went around and saw some 
people sitting in the parlor. ... As I stood there on 
the porch meditating — thinking what I would do — I 
see someone come toward the door, and they had hats 
on — I forget whether it was one or two or three women 
and some children, and it come to me in a flash that 
when they opened the door I would go in, make them 
all stand back and get what I could. As they opened 
the door I walked right in on them. I don't remember 
what I said, but I know one of the women started to 
grab me — I guess I pulled the gun up, demanding 
money, and one woman grabbed my hand and shoved 
it down, and as she did that — an impulse, I suppose — 
I pulled the trigger and the gun went oflf right beside 
her. They all started to scream and holler. While they 
were screaming I shot out the lights and I grabbed one 
woman and told her if she didn't give me some money 
I would kill her — trying to make her give me some 
money. And a man hollered downstairs, 'Here it is I 
Here it is!' and he dropped some down. I told her 
to go and pick it up and she gave it to me and I left the 

Spencer's accounts of the other breaks correspond 
with those of the persons whose houses had been en- 
tered, and all show the same casual method, reckless of 
consequences. He seems to liave been equally pleased 
with his plunder, so long as he got something, whether 


it consisted of money or jewelry of some value, or 
whether he took mere bright, tawdry trinkets such as 
might have attracted the eye of a child. 

On Thursday, April 7th, the papers all over the 
country were full of Spencer's confession. Again we 
quote the Springfield Republican: 

It is an extraordinary story of crime that Spencer tells, not the 
story of a professional criminal, but that of an amateur hungering 
for sensational experience , or perhaps it might he said, of a degen- 
erate, for it developed yesterday that Spencer had, from his youth 
up, engaged in practices destructive to uprightness, and it was sus- 
pected that he was the victim of a drug habit, from characteristic 
marks on his arm and the possession of a hypodermic syringe. [This 
story was afterw^ard disproven and the syringe found to have been 
stolen from the home of Dr. Daly at White River Junction.] These 
facts may explain the strange character of the young man who has 
entered so many Springfield houses in a seemingly aimless way, and 
finally, without need or provocation, wantonly murdered a fine 
woman, beloved because of her qualities, by a large circle of friends. 
. . . Two days ago it was possible to conceive of a lynching party, 
because of the great grief and indignation; yesterday there were 
even those who expressed sympathy for the young man who now 
finds himself in so desperate a plight — but not many, for though 
a relentless doom, such as Spencer faces, is a horrible thing to con- 
template, there are not many but feel that it has been abundantly 
earned by the young pervert, by his reckless sensationalism and wan- 
ton cruelty. . . . 

. . . There are rarely more pathetic scenes than that yesterday 
when the grief-stricken mother went to see her guilty son, and he wept 
in her embrace, his reserve entirely gone, his defiance and indifference 
finally swept away by the realization that all hope was gone, and that 
his refuge, as in his babyhood, was in the arms of the mother who 
loved him best. So at the last, softened human nature had its 
way, even with one who had been able, after a murder of extraor- 
dinary atrocity, to sleep peacefully, perhaps, at night, to go regularly 
to work and laugh and joke with his mates, to wager that the 
murderer would never be caught, and to show a bold front to the 
police even after it seemed hopeless. At many points Spencer's 
spectacular career of crime has touched varying phases of human 
nature, but nothing has been more affecting than the complete 
crumbling of his hardened shell yesterday and the resolution of 
the desperate criminal into the young man with ordinary feelings and 
affections. ... In spite of his confession . . . the Commonwealth 


will accept no plea of guilty. This might be done under the law, 
but it has not been done in a capital case for 50 years, so that 
Spencer will have a trial as full and fair as may be, before he is 
sent to death.* This, owing to various complications, may not come 
until next fall. Nobody doubts that Spencer told the truth yester- 
day. His words relating to his early life and the more recent spec- 
tacular crimes, were mingled with tears, and the evidences of grief 
were so abundant that it was difficult to believe that this was the 
young man who had terrorized citizens in their homes with so much 
nonchalance, and had finally, with the utmost brutality, shot down 
tv.o defenceless women. . . . He confessed to all the breaks attributed 
to the "burglar," and said that he took great pleasure in reading about 
them in the papers. 

On the same day a ring, marked "W. H. Childs" was 
identified as having been taken from the house of Dr. 
C. S. Pratt, in Brattleboro, Vermont, on the night of 
July 23rd, 1908. This was one of the boldest of a series 
of ten robberies that took place in Brattleboro within 
a space of two months. Spencer was at that time brake- 
man on a freight train running into Brattleboro, and 
he spent his nights in that town in the caboose, hanging 
about the streets part of the evening. The break at Dr. 
Pratt's occurred during the evening, while the bailififs 
and selectmen were holding a conference as to what 
should be done to apprehend the burglar who had been 
terrifying the town. In the meantime, the burglar was 
ransacking the Pratt house at his leisure, Dr. Pratt and 
his family being absent. No trace of the burglar was 
found and the police gave up the search, after notifying 
the police departments far and wide to be on the watch 
for the stolen jewelry. Several hundred dollars' worth 
of jewelry, etc., were claimed to have been stolen, but 
among other and more valuable things missing were a 
glove buttoner and an emblem "D. A. R." pin. 

Spencer confessed to this burglary in Brattleboro, 

• Compare with Richeson case. 


and also to other breaks in White River Junction, in- 
cluding the house of Dr. W. O. Daly. From Dr. Daly's 
house he took a lot of odds and ends, which included 
beside the hypodermic syringe, already mentioned, "a 
grip, a medicine case, a cigar case, brush and comb, 
surgeon's scissors, two shirt-waist pins, collar case, sil- 
ver ash tray, leather fob, two bottles of tablets and a 
jar of ointment — a sort of collection," says the Spring- 
field Republican, ^Uhat seems to have been character- 
istic of Spencer, who stole whatever came handy, 
whether he wanted it or not," 

Mr. L. D. Wheeler of White River Junction he held 
up in his barn, forced him to hand over his watch and a 
sparkling scarf-pin. "He handed it out," said Spencer 
in his confession, "just handed it out to me. I says : 'You 
stay here and don't make a noise — you stay here ten 
minutes,' and I went out and put on my coat and hat — 
I could see him through the barn window; he just kind 
of walked around leisurely and stood there, and I went 
away; he was staying there when I went out of sight." 

In a like manner, during his railroad experience, he 
had robbed five houses in Greenfield, including those 
of former Sheriff Wilson L. Smead, Frederick L. 
Green and W. S. Hutchins; and he admitted having 
entered a hotel in Northfield and stolen $5 from a guest. 

The Springfield Republican of April 8th, 1910, has 
a long editorial on the dangers of sensational literature 
of the "Raffles" variety. It says, in part: 

Whether he had read the "Raffles" stories is not known, but his 
performances might well have followed such readings and have been 
the direct product of them. The description of an attractive per- 
sonality, engaged in outwitting the officers of the law, and particularly 
the casting about such affairs the pleasant atmosphere of romantic 
adventure, may and does exert a powerful influence of suggestion on 


minds not positively resistant to such influences. Upon such a nature 
as that of our criminal, already advanced along the road of ivanton 
lau'lessness, the charm of Raffles fiction would be great and even 
commanding. Spencer fairly revelled in the excitement ivhich he 
caused in defeating police guardianship. Nevertheless, it must be 
recognized that he was but a clumsy operator, and as such ought to 
have been caught long before murder was done. But he was a type- 
there was cause and effect in his work; and Switzerland does well to 
interdict "Raffles" stories. . . . 

It was apparent from his methods, his behavior and the character 
of the loot that he gathered that he was after excitement and sensa- 
tions more than loot — he ivas a burglar for the fun of the thing. 
In other respects he seems to have been normal, or so nearly so that 
he was never suspected of any crime, and his peculiarities were 
thought of only after he had proved to be guilty of an almost unheard- 
of series of criminal acts. He was said to be a good companion, 
though hasty in temper. Women spoke of him as a gentleman, 
and mentioned his kindliness. And yet this young man had been a 
thief pretty much all his life, had stolen, according to his own 
admission, from nearly everybody he came in contact with, even his 
closest friends. Apparently his conscience from early boyhood had 
been stunted, else how could he have gone about his daily work, 
cheerful and undisturbed, knowing that he was causing terror, dis- 
tress, and finally death? 

As a craftsman, his methods were of an unheard-of crudity, and 
the fact that he was not caught earlier is due to his perfect assurance 
and freedom from worry — or at least to the ability to conceal it — and 
even more to a fool's luck. Imagine a professional burglar leaving 
part of his clothing outside of a house he was about to enter. In 
case of accident it might either delay his retreat or he would have 
to leave it as a tell-tale, and parade the streets in his burglar's 
get-up. Or suppose . . . Spencer had been casually held up by 
an officer and found to have the big revolver strapped to his person! 
, . . Even after the murder, Spencer dwelt calmly in the midst 
of damning evidence, such as common sense would have at once 
destroyed. Such are the methods that have baffled the police for two 
years. The\' are baffling for the precise reason that they are so 
different from what might have been expected. 

One might continue to quote volumes from the news- 
papers of that time to prove that popular opinion be- 
fore the arrest held the burglar and murderer to have 
been abnormal, degenerate or insane. These deduc- 
tions were made from the evidence of the crimes them- 


selves: their lack of adequate motive, their sensational- 
ism and the reckless daring of the unknown criminal. 
And after the arrest and even after Spencer's confes- 
sion, in spite of the popular clamor for a victim, the 
papers all over the country continued to argue on the 
same grounds from the full evidence then before them. 
H. J. Murray, one of the Pinkerton detectives on 
the case, is quoted as having said, "There is no case in 
the files of the Pinkerton Detective Agency which is 
in any way paralleled by that which has been enacted 
in this city." . . . Mr. Murray said that among the 
unusual points of the Spencer case were the succession 
of events following the murder and the character of 
the murderer himself. . . . He pointed out that Spen- 
cer was a kindly man about the house, careful and con- 
siderate of his wife, doing many little things to assist 
her in the household. The fact that he was not ad- 
dicted to the use of liquor, drugs of any kind or tobacco 
was regarded as significant in making his case unusual. 
. . . Spencer's long, uninterrupted career of crime 
was due, the detective said, not so much to cleverness 
on his part as to luck. Murray said that Spencer did 
not choose the house he was about to enter with any re- 
lation to the probable amount of valuables to be found 
therein. He just strolled about the streets and selected 
any house which happened to appeal to his fancy. 



History of Spencer's Life 

Bertram Gager Spencer was born in Lebanon, Con- 
necticut, on June 9th, 1881. He came from what is 
called good American stock on both sides of his family. 
The Spencers were well known and respected in the 
community, the father, Wilbur L. L. Spencer, having 
for years kept one of the two village stores; more re- 
cently he had given up the store and confined himself 
to managing his farm and dealing in farm machinery. 
He was known as a stern, upright man, deeply relig- 
ious, and had been superintendent of the Sunday school 
in Lebanon for eighteen years. Mrs. Spencer was a 
devoted wife and mother, popular among her neigh- 
bors and interested in church work. There were three 
children, of whom Bertram was the oldest. 

So much for a superficial glance at the family as they 
were known in the community; but on inquiry we find 
that there were eccentricities in all the members of this 
village family, and that there was a long history of 
mental disease and nervous instability on both sides for 
four generations back — soil for the development of the 
constitutional psychopath. 



Bertram Spencer's father had all his life been sub- 
ject to fits of uncontrollable temper. The history of 
Bertram's childhood is a series of episodes, showing 
his father's extreme irritability and excitability, and 
the inconsistency of a nature deeply pious and with a 
stern sense of duty at the same time with so little self- 
control that he was capable of acts of inhuman cruelty 
to a helpless child and abuse of a devoted wife. Mrs. 
Spencer at the trial testified that her husband had slept 
very little for the past twenty years ; he always had a 
light in the next room, with the door open so that it 
would shine into his room. She said he was extremely 
jealous and suspicious that people were trying to tor- 
ment him or to conspire against him, doing things to 
annoy him without cause; he always slept with a re- 
volver under his pillow; he had been subject to "nerv- 
ous attacks" for at least twenty-five years ; in May, 191 1, 
she found him sitting up in bed, groaning and saying 
that he didn't know what was going to happen to him — 
"He was afraid he was going insane, and wanted me to 
promise that I wouldn't have him sent to an institution 
if he did. He said there were all sorts of things going 
through his head — bad things." Such attacks she said 
were of frequent occurrence. 

As our history will show, Mr. Spencer could not 
brook opposition in the family, and was in the habit of 
using a revolver to maintain family discipline. Aside 
from possible injuries from repeated cruelties, the men- 
tal impression made upon a sensitive child by such 
example and such treatment played an important part 
in his future development. 

The paternal grandfather, William L. Spencer, died 
in the Hospital for the Insane at Middletown, Con- 


necticut, on September 15th, 1899, of senile dementia. 

A neighbor, Robert B. Gordon, said that William 
L. Spencer was always threatening to go to law — "He 
would get into a rage if anybody crossed him and talk 
law." Mrs. W. L. L. Spencer also testified at the trial 
as to her father-in-law's having been insane. He had 
lived with them before he was committed to the State 
Hospital at Middletown. 

Paternal Grandmother. William L. Spencer mar- 
ried a Mary Hughes, who had previously been married 
to a man named Date. According to her son, "She was 
silly at times and cunning at times in her latter days." 
She died in Franklin, Conn., according to the records, 
of "softening of the brain." This grandmother had two 
children by her previous marriage whose history is 

Paternal Aunt. Helen Date Tiflfany, the half-sister 
of Bertram's father, died in the Worcester State Hos- 
pital for the Insane, on April 22nd, 191 1, at the age of 
56. She had been four years in the hospital. The Super- 
intendent, Dr. Hosea M. Quinby, testified that she was 
insane: "She had delusions of hearing, delusions of 
wealth, mistaken identity, and various delusions along 
that line." 

Paternal Uncle. David B. Date was brother of this 
woman and half-brother of Spencer's father, who said 
of him, "He was very erratic in many ways and always 

Paternal Great-grandfather. The father of William 
L. Spencer, Ambrose Spencer, according to the testi- 
mony adduced at the trial, was a neurotic and had out- 
breaks of violent temper. His grandson, William K. 
Spencer, said that he had been to see him in his last 


illness, and that "his mind was all gone" — "He didn't 
talk as though he knew me." Wilbur L. L. Spencer 
said that his father had told him that Ambrose Spencer 
had "insane spells — fits, he called them." 

So much for the history on the father's side. The 
history of Bertram's mother and her family is as 

Mother, Kate E. Spencer is of a neurotic tempera- 
ment and inclined to fits of melancholy. On two occa- 
sions, when depressed, she tried to take her life : in 1894 
she confessed that she attempted suicide by taking lau- 
danum — "but I should have taken anything else, had it 
been in reach," she says in a letter, dated February 
14th, 1912. Dr. N. L. Drake, for some years the family 
physician in Lebanon, deposed that in 1896 Mrs. Spen- 
cer had been treated by him for an injury to her wrists. 
"She said that in a sudden fit of despondency and 
anger she had tried to end her life by cutting both 
wrists, adding that if the knife had been sharp enough 
she would have accomplished it. She realized that she 
had done a foolish and rash act on impulse." Mrs. 
Spencer is a highly-strung, over-conscientious woman, 
whose life seems to have been one continual sacrifice to 
the peculiarities of her husband and children, with the 
idea of family insanity never far from her mind. In 
her family there have been three generations afflicted 
with mental disease. 

Maternal Grandfather. Judson A. Gager, father of 
Mrs. Spencer, was an irritable, quick-tempered man, 
according to the testimony of his neighbors, very nerv- 
ous and addicted to drink. Of Bertram's four grand- 
parents, he was the most nearly normal. 

Maternal Grandfather s Aunt. Eliza Gager died in 


1906 at the Spencer's home in Lebanon of "softening 
of the brain." She was feeble-minded and had been 
insane all her life, as both Mr, and Mrs. Spencer, their 
family physician and various family friends testified. 
She had delusions of hearing for a great many years — 
imagined she heard people talking to her, and that a 
boy and girl were hiding behind the door trying to 
annoy her, and that Indians were attacking the house. 

Maternal Grandmother. Mrs. W. L. L. Spencer's 
mother, Mary Davis, wife of Judson A. Gager, died in 
June, 1866, at the age of 37. She had ''hysterical fits" 
throughout her life and was mentally deranged a long 
time before she died. 

Maternal Great-grandfather. Mary Davis Gager's 
father, Nathaniel Davis, the husband of Hannah, died 
of "softening of the brain" at Newport, Rhode Island, 
in 1872, at the age of 78. "He was deranged for several 
years before he died." 

Mother's Uncle. William H. Davis, the son of 
Nathaniel Davis, was mentally unsound and died of 
"cerebral congestion," at the age of 60 years and 6 

Mother s Cousin. This William H. Davis had a son 
of the same name who died of "inflammation of the 
brain," at the age of 40 years and 10 months. Thus for 
three generations in Mrs. Spencer's mother's family 
there had been insanity. 

I could furnish much data to show that the other 
children of Mr. and Mrs. W. L. L. Spencer were neu- 
rotic, if not psychopathic. Indeed, from a medical 
point of view, their symptoms would be considered 
quite as abnormal as those of their father and of Spen- 
cer himself. 


The story of Spencer's childhood is one continuous 
tale of insubordination and severe punishments. The 
child seems to have had a lovable side to his nature and 
his relation with his mother was always most affection- 
ate and happy. She understood the boy, and did not 
attempt to cross him or to force obedience, but patiently 
guided him along the lines of the least resistance. But 
with his father, almost from infancy, there was a con- 
flict of wills followed by the application of physical 
force. The father being the stronger, he won out physi- 
cally, but he never gained a moral victory, nor is there 
anything to show that the child profited by experience, 
or that fear of punishment acted in any way as a deter- 
rent to his impulsive wrong-doing a second time. In- 
deed there is good reason to believe that, in this in- 
stance, had the rod been spared the child might not 
have been spoiled; though nothing could have made 
Bertram Spencer a normal man. He might have been 
protected from unnecessary strain and excitement, and 
by constant example and kindly understanding, trained 
to habits of self-control, which would have enabled 
him to be a useful worker and a harmless member of 

The following history is made up largely from his 
mother's account of his childhood and early youth, 
given at his trial and in letters, confirmed in almost 
every detail by the father himself and by numerous 
friends and neighbors. Among these latter it is inter- 
esting to note that those who knew Bertram but slightly, 
or with whom there had been no conflict of interests — 
who had never had occasion to "cross him" in any 
way — considered him a normal boy; many found him 
socially attractive, gentle and polite. But everyone who 


had had an opportunity to observe him closely, at home 
and abroad, at work and at play, or who had disagreed 
with him ever so slightly, testified to his sudden fits of 
temper, his utter lack of self-control and the peculiar 
symptoms which he manifested from time to time after 
one of his outbreaks. 

Bertram seems to have been a healthy infant, but he 
did not walk or talk until he was over two years old. 
When the child was only nine months old he was sitting 
at the table in his little high chair while the family 
were eating, and was attracted by the bright color of 
a dish of radishes; he reached for them and his father 
whipped his hands with the side of a silver knife; when 
he cried, he was taken from the table and severely pun- 
ished for crying. "After this he exhibited extreme 
nervousness while sleeping," says his mother; "he 
would start and cry out in his sleep." 

Again, in the winter following his third birthday, 
he was taken by his parents to a church "social" in the 
evening, and the child was told not to touch the books. 
"He had a fondness for looking at pictures and books," 
said his mother. "But the child escaped my attention 
and during the evening I found him on the floor with a 
book, looking it through." When they reached home, 
his father punished him severely, and the child wrig- 
gled out of his father's hands and fell, striking the 
back of his head on an old-fashioned, air-tight stove, 
and cutting quite a gash at the base of the skull. 

Another pathetic tale is told by his mother of her 
attempt to teach him to say "Now I lay me." "I taught 
him a little prayer, and there were certain parts of the 
prayer the child couldn't commit to memory. His 
father whipped him with a stick for not being able to^ 




He thought it was just because the child was contrary — 
or obstinate." 

At the age of seven Bertram had another very severe 
punishment. He had ralced up some leaves in the back 
yard and set fire to them. To punish him for this child- 
ish ofifence, his father took him into the woodshed, tied 
his hands behind him, put his head on the chopping 
block and threatened to cut it ofTf if he ever repeated the 
offence. His mother said that when he came in from 
the woodshed there was blood on him and he was very 
much excited, crying and screaming. This was soon 
after one of Mrs. Spencer's other children had been 
born, and the nurse, Mrs. Henrietta Post, who was then 
present, confirms this statement. Mrs. Post said that 
Spencer, as a little child, was ''queer, odd and strange — 
wanted his own way — very excitable." 

In 1890, when Bertram was nine years old, he was 
permitted to sell papers after school, but his father told 
him that he must be home by five o'clock. One day he 
stopped on the way home to play with a schoolmate 
and did not return until about six. Again his father 
whipped him severely and took him to the door and 
pushed him out, saying, "Never show your face here 

In addition to his other shortcomings, Bert frequent- 
ly ran away from home and had to be brought back by 
the "hired man" or one of the neighbors, and was se- 
verely punished on such occasions; but his father said 
that there was very little, if any, improvement after 
these punishments. "He wouldn't do the same thing 
immediately afterwards, but soon afterwards he would 
perhaps do the same thing and even worse." 

Bertram was incapable of learning by experience, 


and his father, in spite of his religious principles, ap- 
parently made little effort to control his own violent, 
cruel temper, but gave way to his rage whenever the 
child's backslidings were brought to his notice, even 
using a revolver to force the boy when he resisted pun- 
ishment. It would appear that even in his early sur- 
roundings, Bertram was very suggestible, and did learn 
from example; his outbreaks of temper, as he grew 
older, were very similar to those of his father. Had 
he been brought up in different environment, and had 
his father been a wise, self-controlled man who under- 
stood his son's limitations and did not ask too much 
of him, it is possible that Bertram mighty have devel- 
oped into a more nearly normal man. But with con- 
tinual friction and frequent exhibitions of unreasoning 
rage from his father, the boy's defective nature made 
the development of self-control an impossibility and 
fostered a tendency to secretive habits, which made fer- 
tile soil for the growth of criminal traits. 

When he was eleven years old, the boy stole a jack- 
knife from the village store. On discovering this, his 
father took him into the horse barn and whipped him 
severely with a horsewhip, striking him on the head — 
and then left him. In testifying about this occasion at 
the trial, Mr. Spencer said he did not know which end 
of the whip he had used — "In my excitement, he might 
have been hit in any part of the body." Mrs. Spencer 
said: "I heard the boy's screams and went to him and 
took him in and cared for him — put him to bed. He 
said his head was hurt, and I saw that it was hurt. He 
said that it had been done with the butt of a whip. 
Ever since that time he has made complaints of his 
head." In various other statements, both Mrs. Spencer 


and Bertram himself have attributed some permanent 
injury to this punishment, Mrs. Spencer also claiming 
that some serious brain injury had been sustained at 
the time when, at the age of three, he had fallen from 
his father's hands against the stove. 

During the summer following his thirteenth birth- 
day, Bertram was accused of not having fastened the 
barn door securely, so that the cow got away during the 
night and did some damage. His father punished him 
by taking him into the woods, where he tied him to a 
tree, whipped him, and left him "for the wolves to de- 
vour." He then went to the mill, some two or three 
miles beyond, and did not return for an hour or so, 
when he untied the boy and brought him home. 

One day in the same summer, 1892, Mrs. Spencer 
was entertaining two friends who had driven from an 
adjoining town to visit her. Bertram had been told to 
harness a horse and buggy, which had been ordered by 
the minister to take a drive. His mother asked him to 
put up the guest's horse first, saying that a few minutes' 
delay would not make any difference. For not return- 
ing promptly to the store, where the minister was wait- 
ing for the horse and buggy, his father punished him 
severely. Bertram escaped from him, and ran, very 
much excited, crying and screaming, from the store to 
the house, followed by his father, who completed the 
punishment in the kitchen in the presence of Mrs. 
Spencer and her guests. According to Mrs. Spencer, 
he used his fists and kicked the child, and told him to 
leave home. She sent Bertram away to Troy after 
that, but later he came back and went to school in Leb- 

His teacher, George E. Briggs, testified that "he did 


not seem a normal child — was dififerent from the others. 
He would fly into paroxysms of anger without very 
much cause. He could not grasp mathematics — it was 
difficult for him to learn." Mr. Briggs' efforts to ex- 
plain Bertram's lessons to him were without practical 
result; he found him unable to concentrate. "On one 
occasion, during the noon intermission," said Mr. 
Briggs, "he was playing a game with another boy and 
at the same time two little girls were playing a game; 
as one girl pursued the other, she crossed his path as 
he was pursuing the boy, and he flew into a paroxysm of 
rage over it; his face changed color and he stopped, 
rushed up to her, and struck her in the eye. He seemed 
to have no power to control himself." Mr. Briggs thus 
described another incident: "I heard a boy taunt him 
for being kept away from school — several boys seemed 
to be taunting him — and he drew a knife and rushed 
at the nearest boy and tried to stab him in the back. He 
seemed to have no control of himself. I remember 
punishing him once with a strap, but the punishment 
had no effect upon his course of conduct." Mr. Briggs 
said that the work he was giving Spencer at this time — 
in his fourteenth year — was not much more than third 
or fourth grade. 

When Bertram was fourteen, his mother took him to 
Boston, and he enlisted at Charlestown on the receiving 
ship "Wabash," but remained in the Navy at this time 
only a few weeks, being discharged on August 14th, 
1895, for disability. Dr. Henry LaMotte, at that time 
Assistant-Surgeon in the U. S. Navy, who signed the re- 
port of Medical survey on which Spencer was dis- 
charged, and which declared him "unfit for service" 



on account of "eneuresis," testified at the trial as fol- 

"He had three varieties of imperative impulses. He, 
on two or three occasions, when talking to me and other 
men in the hospital, suddenly stopped talking, and 
jumped on the bed, or on a chair. He also, on several 
occasions, took down his trousers and showed his parts 
to other boys. He urinated in his hammock, but not 
in his bed. Every time he slept in his hammock while 
he was in the hospital he urinated in the hammock. He 
was quiet, reserved, somewhat depressed; but he would 
suddenly have a flash of apparent merriment; a foolish 
smile would come over his face, and he would lapse 
into the same stupid, apathetic attitude which he had 
before. I was ordered to report on this man by the 
Board of Investigation." Dr. LaMotte added that he 
thought he had had Spencer under observation for 
about a month; he said he had passed urethral sounds 
two or three times. He was not allowed by the Court 
to testify as to his opinion of Spencer's mental condi- 
tion, not being able to qualify as an expert, though he 
had had considerable experience with mental cases. 
The report did not state all the symptoms and condi- 
tions for which Bertram was discharged. 

We may here quote the opinion of a neighbor, Joe 
Stedman, who had known Bertram from his birth, see- 
ing him constantly until he was ten, when Stedman had 
left Lebanon; but who came back at intervals to visit 
and saw a good deal of Bertram. He spoke of Bertram's 
conduct as showing "impaired mentality." "I saw him 
do things I didn't consider exactly right — that an ordi- 
nary mind would not do." Spencer had attacked Sted- 


man many times when they were children. Stedman 
told of seeing Spencer throw a i or 2 lb. weight at one 
of his father's clerks. "At that time he looked wild — 
a characteristic look — I would explain it as crazy — sort 
of wild, infuriated and uncontrollable." There were 
many such spells, too numerous for Stedman to remem- 
ber, covering at least twenty years, he said. Comparing 
Bertram's anger with that of an ordinary man, Stedman 
said there was "a difference in facial expression, a vio- 
lent rage — peculiar appearance of his eyes, which I 
couldn't exactly describe intelligently." 

In 1896, when Bertram was sixteen, his mother heard 
an explosion, and rushing out, found Bertram uncon- 
scious on the ground, with a gun blown to pieces near 
him. He had been firing it by holding it directly over 
his head, and he received a deep wound on the head 
from the exploded gun, as both parents testified. 

In the same year, to punish him for running away 
from home, he was taken by his father to the woods 
and ordered to cut some hickory sticks. He was then 
compelled to remove part of his clothing and the father 
took ofif his own coat and gave the boy a severe whip- 
ping. In describing this, Mr. Spencer said that he had 
a revolver, which he laid on his coat near by, and told 
Bert to make no outcry — that he was going to give him 
the severest punishment of his life and that "if he made 
too much fuss, I would shoot him." A Mr. Lattimer, 
who was working for Mr. Spencer at this time and who 
lived at their house, testified, "There were several 
marks on the defendant's body, which covered most of 
the body from the head to the heels. He had the ap- 
pearance of having been severely beaten." 

A friend of the family, Horace B. Bailey, of Gill, 


Conn., whom Bertram visited about this time and on 
various other occasions for as much as a week or so at 
a time, said : "If you approached or spoke to him on any- 
subject, quick, he would give a wild, indifferent look; 
if you agreed with him, everything seemed to be all 
right, but if you didn't agree, it seemed to disturb him." 

Mr. Spencer described an occasion when he and 
Bertram had started for a drive together, and Bertram 
had put his arm on the back of the seat of the buggy. 
"We were riding out of the yard, and he was at my side 
and he put his hand in the hollow of my back, like 
that — and it seemed to me intentional, and I turned 
around and gave him a cuff on the side of the head, 
asked him what he was doing it for, and he jumped 
from the wagon and left me. I immediately followed 
him and called to him. He swore at me and continued 
to run. I went into the house and got the revolver and 
fired in his direction as he was running through the 

In the spring of the following year, 1897, Bertram 
went fishing one Saturday night, and as the outbuild- 
ings were closed when he returned, he left his fish-pole 
standing by the back door. His father came in and 
stumbled over it and caught the fish-hook in his leg. 
He said: "It aggravated me — excited me, and I took it 
immediately, without thought, and broke it into several 
pieces." When Bertram saw his rod broken, he came 
rushing into the house in terrible excitement. His 
mother said he was in a nervous frenzy — acted like a 
crazy man — ^went into hysterics, cried and screamed. 

The same year he ran away from home and came 
back during his father's absence to get his clothes. His 
mother persuaded him to go upstairs to bed. When 


Mr. Spencer returned he suspected Bertram was in the 
house — like the ogre in the fairy tale — and went up- 
stairs in search of him, followed by his wife. Accord- 
ing to Mr. Spencer, Bertram drew a revolver when 
his father approached him and attempted to fire at 
him; the latter jumped on the bed and grabbed it, and 
a tussle ensued, during which the lamp was upset and 
the bedding caught fire. Mrs. Spencer screamed, and 
the father let go his hold upon Bertram after taking 
the revolver from him, and the boy jumped up and ran 
downstairs, followed by his father, after the latter had 
first hastily extinguished the fire. Mrs. Spencer con- 
tinued her testimony by saying, "Taking a pair of over- 
alls he (Bertram) went out into the cold night, bare- 
footed, and ran to the home of a neighbor about a mile 
away, his father firing five shots from the back door 
as he ran through the yard and down towards the road." 
The neighbor, Mr. Clark H. Standish, who had known 
Bertram from birth, confirmed Mrs. Spencer's state- 
ment as to her son's condition. Mr. Standish had heard 
the firing, and said Bertram had shown him an injury 
in the fleshy part of the thumb that night after he got 
into the house, which he said was caused by one of his 
father's shots. The next morning Mr. Standish lent 
him some clothes, and in the afternoon his mother and 
sister came to see him and found him very excited and 
nervous. Mr. Standish said : "I heard him sobbing and 
crying from the barn to the house, though the windows 
were closed. It was a hysterical sob. When I went in 
he was in a hysterical shape and all of a-tremble." Mr. 
Standish said he had seen Bertram on another occasion 
at his house when he was very melancholy and had not 
much to say to anybody. "I have seen him at school 


get mad at the other scholars — when I worked in the 
store and post-office, which is close by the school. He 
would fly into a rage on small provocation — did not 
appear to have control of himself at those times. When 
anybody crossed or opposed him he would fly at them 
in a rage — strike at them. I have seen him pound 
smaller boys beside the schoolhouse, when I have stood 
on the store stoop." 

Mr. Standish also told of an occurrence when he and 
another man were digging a ditch for Mr. Spencer: 
"Bert wanted the best shovel, and the other fellow and 
I were paid wages, and the other fellow wanted the best 
shovel and Spencer took it." This man, Sweet, took the 
shovel away from the boy and threw down the old 
shovel he had been using. Spencer grabbed this shovel 
and was about to attack Sweet with it when Standish 
interfered and took it away from him. Then, accord- 
ing to Standish, "He commenced to cry and make mo- 
tions, crying and heaving and sighing — seemed to be 
very excited and hysterical because we took the shovel 
away from him, and he went off a little way and put 
his hands to his face and commenced to go off into 
hysterical shapes." 

Shortly after the fish-pole episode, Mrs. Spencer sent 
Bertram away to her cousin's in Providence, where he 
stayed for about three months. A very sympathetic let- 
ter to Mrs. Spencer from this cousin, Mr. Tilley, speaks 
of Bert's having been cut in the wrist with a razor, 
with which he had been "fooling" in the barber shop 
on his way back from work, "which necessitated taking 
four stitches, and came very near being a serious affair, 
and will probably lay him up for a week or two. The 
doctor says he thinks it will not result in permanent in- 


jury, but was an extremely close shave." Mr. Tilley 
continues, "Somehow I have had a feeling since Bert 
came that it was all a mistake for him to leave home at 
his age, and that somehow father and son should be 
able to help each other better than any stranger could 
help him; and I have had a serious talk with Bert this 
afternoon and I know he would be glad to come home, 
and do the best he can to fill the place he ought to 
occupy." He then goes on to speak of Bertram's health : 

Bertram has not been well since he came. He had one quite sick 
turn and was threatened with typhoid fever and had a doctor, and 
he has had quite a cough hanging over him since, though he has been 
doctoring for it. The city does not agree with him. You probably 
remember. Will, when you was a boy, and probably you made some 
slips and was something of a trial to your friends, and you know 
that you are liable to make mistakes, and so ought to have charity 
for your boy. I think it would be a mistake for Bert to confine 
himself to any factory or any other place where he could not use 
his natural gifts for trading. ... I feel that Bertram needs his 
home and you need him, and if I can pave the way to a reconciliation, 
I shall be pleased. The doctor thinks he can remove the stitches 
Monday, and that the wound will heal quite rapidly, as Bert 
has good habits and probably has good blood. 

Bert did not come home at this time, however, but 
went to Norwich, Conn., to work for a carpenter named 
Calvin Briggs, with whom he lived for some time. 
Mr. Briggs testified at the trial that he had noticed 
Bertram's peculiarities in some ways: "At times he 
seemed jolly and jovial, and at other times he would 
perhaps sit back in a corner and whistle and put his 
hands up to his face, or something of that kind." At 
one time his mother was sent for, as Bert had been ar- 
rested for drunkenness. When she reached Norwich, 
Mrs. Briggs told her that they had had some young 
people spending the evening; they were playing and 


singing. Bertram was sitting with his head in his hands, 
and suddenly jumped up and rushed out of the door, 
and that was the last she saw of him until the next 
morning. He had been despondent, she said, all day. 
He told his mother that he had gone out into the street 
in a fit of despondency and was later found in a 
dazed condition and taken to the court house. If, as 
the story would indicate, Bertram had been drinking 
at this time, it was an unusual event, the only mention 
of such a happening in all his history. His mother 
declared that she had never known of his drinking on 
any other occasion. 

From Norwich Bertram went to New Haven, where 
he stayed for about two months, and from there to a 
cousin's in Portland. Later he went to Hartford, being 
at this time about eighteen years old. He remained 
in Hartford about three months, working in a depart- 
ment store and there is much testimony of his peculiar 
temper from his associates there. His fellow clerks, 
Richards, Killian, Hunter and Tedworth told of his 
springing over a counter and attacking a cash boy who 
had been annoying him with a hammer, colliding with 
a customer on the way. They all seem to have been 
impressed with the peculiar quality of his anger. Rich- 
ards said, "At times he would have a vacant stare, as 
though he lost himself. If anybody crossed him, he 
seemed to get into an uncontrollable rage; he seemed 
to lose complete control of himself." At the time of 
the attack upon the cash boy Richards said, "He seemed 
like a wild beast — he didn't seem to have any control 
over himself. After colliding with the lady he kept 
on going until he was stopped by some of the other 
clerks." Hunter said, "He looked wild ; he became very 


nervous, turned, twisted all around, and then he made 
a leap on top of the counter and straight over. He was 
a very nervous boy at that time in his actions. We took 
a little interest in him, and he stated that he had been 
used bad at home, and gave that as the reason why he 
had left." Tedworth also told of this incident, and of 
another, when Spencer had thrown a hammer at a boy, 
saying: "At that time he looked very much as though he 
was not quite right. He threw it hard enough to kill 
the boy if it had hit him." He said that Spencer mani- 
fested his excitement by "wild actions, the expression 
of his eyes, the way he rushed around — acted. He 
acted a good deal like a bull that is mad — wild — a wild 
expression. The wild expression of the eyes I noticed 
more than anything. At the time he threw the hammer 
he said he wished that he had killed the boy — or some- 
thing to that efifect." Mr. Killian, who was the head 
of the department in which Spencer worked, gave a 
still more detailed account of his peculiarities. Speak- 
ing of the time when Spencer had thrown the hammer 
at the boy, Killian said, "Spencer all of a sudden, with 
a rage, took a hammer and let it fly at the cash boy. 
I said, 'If you hit that boy, you will kill him right in 
his tracks.' He made the remark that he didn't care if 
he killed him — or something to that effect. I tried to 
tell him to be more quiet and not to do such a thing, 
but he raged right up and kept going — swearing just 
the same. . . . While he was waiting on customers he 
was inattentive and seemed to wander away from his 
business; his eyes looked at times kind of glaring, as if 
he wasn't all there at the time. When he threw the 
hammer at the cash boy his eyes looked glaring — a wild 
look in them. He appeared as if he couldn't control 



himself. I don't think he realized what he had done." 
Killian said that when Spencer had been there a few 
days he received a small paper box through the mail. 
"I was standing near him when he got the mail, and 
he opened this package, and in the package were some 
sweet peas, and a pipe buried underneath. He looked 
in the box when it was opened and fussed over the 
sweet peas, and he took out the pipe and said, 'My 
mother sent that. My mother is good,' and then he 
started in and swore about his father. His manner and 
appearance seemed like a boy — he held his head as if 
in sorrow — more like a younger boy — he was so tickled 
to see that come from his mother." Killian added that 
he remembered Spencer because he was so different 
from the other young men that came in there. When 
Killian told this story in court, Bertram wept. 

Dr. LaMotte, the Naval Surgeon who examined 
Bertram for the Board of Survey, afterwards looked 
up his record in Hartford, and he reported to Mr. 
Stapleton, Spencer's counsel, that "almost everybody 
with whom he came in contact recognized him as 
'crazy,' as they put it." 

After this, Bertram went home again to live. A 
friend of the family, Mrs. Euretta M. Watrous, of 
Portland, Conn., whom he used to visit often for several 
weeks at a time during this period of his life or earlier, 
said she had once seen him coming downstairs after 
some other boys with a revolver in his hand, and she 
had stopped him and demanded the revolver. "He 
seemed almost blind with rage. He said he was going 
out to fix a boy that had something against him. He 
appeared very wild and very angry. He had a habit 
of looking at you just an instant, and then casting his 


eyes down sideways in a kind of sly expression, I call 

Bertram's mother said that *'in February, 1900, he 
started to spend the evening with a young woman who 
lived down town. He was grabbed from behind, bound 
hand and foot and gagged, and left lying in the snow 
and slush from half-past seven until eleven in the 
evening. This was done by boys older than himself, 
because one of them was jealous of Bert's attentions to 
this girl. If anything happened it was always Bert 
who did everything, and the boys were always ready 
to give him a kick down hill. I know who four of the 
boys were who took part in tying him up. That was 
the beginning of his carrying a revolver. He was a 
martyr to the whipping post for all the deviltry com- 
mitted by those eight or ten boys." This, and many 
other stories, show that, like most defective children, 
Bert was never popular with his companions. Like 
the others, he was "picked on" while he was little, and 
made a scapegoat when he grew older; his dangerous 
temper was fostered by continual persecution and lack 
of understanding at home and abroad, in spite of his 
mother's tender sympathy and repeated efforts to spare 

A similar episode occurred one Sunday in May or 
June of the same year. He had left home to go to 
church in the evening, but returned in a very excited 
condition, complaining of pains in his head. He told 
his mother that he had left church early, as he could 
not sit still on account of a carbuncle on his neck. On 
the way home he had stopped to speak to a young man 
opposite the home of Mr. N. B. Williams; here he was 
accosted by another young man, who struck him several 


blows and knocked him down. Bertram said he had 
warned the fellow three times to let him alone, threat- 
ening him with his revolver, and had finally fired at 
him. From various things in the account, we gather 
that this quarrel was also about a young woman. 

Bertram was inclined to fits of depression at this 
time, and in May, 1900, shortly before his nineteenth 
birthday, he attempted suicide by taking laudanum. 
His mother had been away on a visit with her daughter, 
and on her return at four o'clock in the afternoon she 
found him on the bed unconscious, with an empty 4 oz. 
bottle beside him, which had contained laudanum. 
Bertram afterwards said it had been half full. Drs. 
Drake and Danielson were summoned, and the former 
remained all night and, with Mrs. Spencer's assistance, 
kept Bertram moving around the room at intervals 
until morning. He told his mother afterwards that he 
had had a love affair, and that he had attempted to take 
his life because he did not wish to live any longer. Dr. 
Drake, who had treated Bertram for various illnesses, 
and had known him especially well from 1895 to 1901, 
said he formed the opinion that Spencer was depressed 
and despondent at the time — that it was one of those 
impulsive acts peculiar to youth of a strongly neurotic 
temperament. He was not allowed at the trial to ex- 
press an opinion as to Spencer's mental condition, nor 
was Dr. Danielson. 

After this attempt on his life, Bertram again enlisted 
in the Navy, and this time he remained in the service 
eight months and made one cruise. Dr. LaMotte made 
inquiries as to the cause of his discharge and wrote Mr. 
Stapleton (Oct. 19th, 191 1), *'I have received word 
from one of the doctors of the U. S. Board of Survey 


that at the time of his discharge from the Navy, 
the ground for which his discharge was given was 
'enuresis,' and that he considered Spencer defective 
mentally, but it was thought better not so to label him, 
as he might outgrow the defect and become a useful 

Bert was then sent to the Mount Hermon School, 
where he remained for two terms, during 1901 and 
1902. The teachers in that school testified to his bad 
temper, insubordination, bad language and lack of self- 
control. The reports show failures in most of his 
studies. One of his teachers, Mr. Wellington E. Aiken, 
said that at one time he was summoned to the dormi- 
tory, where he found Spencer packing his trunk, talk- 
ing loudly and making a great deal of noise. When 
told to be quiet he became violently angry, swore at 
the teacher and appeared to be regardless of conse- 
quences. The teacher left the dormitory for a short 
time, and on his return found Spencer smoking. As 
this was against the rules, Mr. Aiken requested him 
to desist, and as Spencer refused to obey, he gave him 
until seven o'clock in the evening to decide whether he 
would obey the rules or leave the premises. When he 
came back after supper, Spencer had packed his trunk 
and left. Later he returned to the school and came to 
Mr. Aiken's room and apologized. 

Mr. Horace B. Bailey of Mt. Hermon said that 
Spencer visited his house at various times. Mr. Bailey 
had been formerly employed as an attendant for the 
insane for thirteen years, in an asylum in Poughkeepsie, 
and he had been observant of Spencer's behavior. He 
said that if you approached him suddenly or spoke to 
him unexpectedly he "would give a wild, indifferent 


Second enlistment U. S. Navy 1898, aged 17 years. 


look; if you agreed with him, everything would be 
right, but if you didn't agree, it seemed to disturb him." 
Bailey was not allowed to testify at the trial as to his 
own opinion of Spencer, nor to compare him with the 
patients previously under his charge in the insane 

Probably it was after he left Mt. Hermon that Spen- 
cer worked for a few weeks for his board with Gardiner 
J. Oakes, of Bernardstown, Mass. Mr. Oakes said of 
him, **Once in awhile he would have a kind of poor 
spell, change color and clap his hands up this way. I 
says to him, What is the matter, Bert?' and he says, 
'I will be over it in a minute.' There might have been 
half a dozen of these spells, more or less." He also 
spoke to Mr. Oakes of his headaches, and was melan- 
choly and gloomy at times. 

Spencer again returned home, and for awhile as- 
sisted with the work on the farm. One day about this 
time, he was working in a ditch with a neighbor, Ben- 
jamin Franklin Carpenter, with whom he was talking 
when his father came out and said, "Come, boys, more 
work and less play here." Carpenter said, "The boy 
immediately flew into a passion such as I have never 
seen, unless it was an insane person. . . . He jumped 
out of the ditch with the shovel, and immediately 
started for his father, and you don't know what kind 
of an expression was on this boy's countenance! It 
was wild and staring, and he uttered words that I can't 
repeat — I didn't understand them. He immediately 
hoarsed up, and kept on going for his father with the 
shovel as though he was to strike him." As Mr. Spen- 
cer described Bertram's appearance on this occasion, 
"His features were distorted, his eyes were bulging and 


he was in a very excited state. The saliva was running 
out of each corner of his mouth. . . . He was certainly 
ferocious looking. It was the only time in my life that 
I was ever afraid of him." Mr. Carpenter interfered, 
and Bertram ran into the house "cursing and throwing 
his hands." Mr. Spencer said, "I remained outside 
about my work, and could hear him cursing and swear- 
ing, and loud noises and pounding, and at times it 
seemed as though he was smashing things up there — 
I really didn't feel safe — I didn't think it was safe for 
me to go in at the time. The noises lasted for two or 
three hours, if not longer. He seemed to have no 
control of himself — I don't think he realized what he 
was doing." Mrs. Spencer said, "He came rushing in, 
screaming and crying in hysterics, and it seemed to me 
it was more than an hour before I could quiet him. 
Saliva ran from his mouth, and his eyes glared like a 
wild man, and he was all the time cursing and swear- 
ing in a frenzy — the worst attack I have ever seen him 
in. I noticed that he had a thick tightening in the 
throat — it was a hoarse sound. While in this frenzy 
his bowels moved and he soiled his clothes. He had 
the same symptoms other times when he had spells. 
He frequently wet the bed until fourteen or fifteen, 
also wet his clothes." 

Mr. Carpenter told of Bert's flying into a passion 
when ploughing because his horse was "a little frac- 
tious" in going around the corner of the field. "He 
seemed to fly into a passion, you know, and grabbed 
the horse by the head and went to flogging it with his 
fists about the head." 

The boy was often hysterical for no apparent cause. 
His mother had observed him to have melancholy 


spells when he would weep violently and sob, usually 
under excitement from some provocation. Sometimes, 
as often as once or twice a week, he would be melan- 
choly without apparent provocation, and his mood was 
changeable in the extreme — first he would be melan- 
choly and then would suddenly brighten up. His 
manner was hysterical in sobbing and crying, and some- 
times in laughing, she said — you could hear him sob- 
bing in another room, or from outside the house. There 
was a characteristic similarity in his spells, but some 
of them were more intense than others. His mother 
also said, "We would frequently be at table when he 
would say, 'Mother, did you speak to me?' and I would 
say, 'No, why?' He said, 'I thought I heard someone 
speak to me.' That was a common occurrence. He 
would look up and say, 'Mother, did you speak to 
me?' " Several other persons testified to this peculiar- 
ity of Bert's — the tendency to hear imaginary voices. 

Spencer first went to Springfield about 1903, and 
worked for the Street Railway Company, serving at 
different times both as motorman and conductor, and 
he also served as brakeman on the Boston and Maine 
R. R. for a time. He probably did not remain in any 
of these positions very long, however, for in the same 
year, 1903, he went out to California. Here he boarded 
at intervals — as much as twelve months in all — with 
Mrs. Anita Martland, a family connection who seems 
to have taken considerable interest in Bertram. She 
said, in a written deposition, "When he first came from 
the East he worked in Hale Brothers' department store. 
When he left there he came to our house and stayed for 
awhile; then he went to Seattle. He went up on the 
ship 'Montera' — I believe he worked on the ship. 


Then he came back arid got work at the Oakland Trac- 
tion Company, as conductor on the cars. He was 
living at my house at the time he worked for the Trac- 
tion Company; then he went away — I don't remember 
exactly where he went to, but he came back and worked 
for the People's Express Company, as shipping clerk. 
. . . Well, the earthquake came, and I believe he got 
work as a carpenter, and then he left us." 

Mrs. Martland said, "He acted very queer at times, 
and about every two weeks. Sometimes he was melan- 
choly and would cry and cry by the hour. He was hit 
on the head by his father when a boy of about six years 
of age, and at certain times he would have these terrible 
pains in his head. For instance, he would get up in 
the morning complaining of his head, and I would 
bathe it for him. Then again he would curse and swear 
whenever he happened to have these pains. He was 
abused by his father when at home. He would indulge 
in a spell of swearing or cursing, and pace the floor at 
times for over half an hour; then I would get him to 
lie down and go to sleep, or he would amuse himself 
playing the piano, and I got his mind off it this way. 
I wrote and told his mother, and she said she had the 
same trouble with his father. He would swear when 
he had these pains; then he would go away in the eve- 
nings sometimes, about 8.20 o'clock, and did not show 
up until four o'clock the next morning. He had been 
with me two weeks when he did that. ... I noticed 
that when he would have these spells there was a vein 
or artery under his right ear that pulsated so violently 
it was noticeable to anyone. His condition and appear- 
ance were entirely changeable at the times when he had 
these spells. He was a perfect gentleman out of these 



spells ; when in them he was like a raving fool. These 
changes took place about every two weeks. I bathed 
his head with various cooling lotions — I could not 
touch his head, as it was very tender and caused him 
great pain when there was any pressure. My judg- 
ment is it was on the right side" (referring to the 

Mrs. Lucy T. Lewis, a former resident of Lebanon 
and friend of the Spencer family, who was living in 
Oakland when Spencer was there, said that he had 
called upon her in Oakland and had behaved like an 
insane person, was excited, wild-eyed, nervous, wan- 
dered about the room, would not sit still. He was there 
between two and three hours, and during that time 
talked of scarcely anything but the abuse of his mother 
by his father, but he did not mention his father's abuse 
of himself. He sat first in one chair and then in an- 
other. "I didn't know what to do — I was afraid of 
him. I felt that no person in his right mind would 
talk that way. I simply asked him about his mother; 
he said that his father had struck her in the face and 
dragged her around by the hairs of her head. It was 
out of the ordinary anger. He didn't act like himself." 

Spencer was during his stay in California a member 
of the National Guard. He confessed that he stole the 
revolver with which he later killed Miss Blackstone 
from the Armory of F Company, California National 
Guard, in Oakland. He remained in the West for about 
three years, returning East in 1906 and again went to 
Springfield, where he secured employment with the 
Street Railway Company as conductor. He boarded 
with Mrs. Bessie E. Walters, at 83 Carew Street, where 
he lived before he went West. 


Mrs. Walters said at the trial that she had observed 
that Spencer was "rather a peculiar fellow" in several 
ways; that he was "kind of flighty like — hard to get 
along with in lots of ways. He would speak to me in 
the dining-room," she continued, "and probably there 
would be nobody in there but he and I, and I would be 
going round fixing my table and he would say, 'Did 
you speak to me?' 'No, I didn't speak to you.' 'Did 
anybody call me?' — I have heard him do this a good 
many times, I could not tell just how often; I didn't 
pay no attention to it, of course, but he often asked me 
the question." She said that she had seen him when 
he was melancholy: "You would speak to him, and 
he would not answer — kind of despondent lots of 
times." She also told of an occasion when Spencer had 
a scuffle with his room-mate, George Kenmouth. He 
was trying to pull Kenmouth out of bed. Kenmouth 
jumped up and made for him, and Spencer grabbed 
Kenmouth by the throat. "He looked terrible; he 
looked like a wild man or a crazy man or something. 
He looked certainly as if he was going to do some 
desperate deed. I spoke to him. . . . He dropped his 
hold he had on the boy and turned to me and says, 
'It's a good thing you spoke — I would just as soon kill 
him this minute.' So he reached out his hand and they 
shook hands, and there was all there was of it — they 
were friends the next minute." Mrs. Walters said that 
Spencer had no provocation whatever to be angry while 
he was with them. "He was a man we all stood in fear 
of for that reason — to get him angry. He would get 
into a passion of temper, and this was the reason we 
avoided it as much as we could. He had lots of stuff, 
lots of curious stuff, things that wasn't of no value to 


anybody, sticks and stones and such things. He claimed 
they had a history — he had them for souvenirs — nothing 
of any value to anybody except himself — rather curious 
for a fellow to have. He used to wear badges and pins 
— I didn't examine what they were — I have often seen 
him have lots of those things." 

Mrs. Gladys L. Wyman, a trained nurse who had 
previously had two years' experience in caring for the 
insane at Northampton, had boarded at Mrs. Walter's 
when Spencer was there before going to California, 
and had been there with her husband for two years 
after his return. She noticed that he acted queerly at 
times, and said he had one bad outbreak before he 
went West: "He wasn't pleased with his dinner at all, 
and the meat, especially, didn't suit him. He looked 
it all over and then threw it to one side of the table, 
exclaiming that the meat wasn't fit for a dog to eat. 
I myself and the rest of the boarders had eaten the 
same meat as he had to eat. His eyes stared— he had a 
glaring stare in his eyes — he was pale of face — his 
tightening of the lips and twitching of the face— that 
was all I noticed at the time. Previous to this his 
table manners were very polite. . . . He thought that 
people were trying to get the better of him — made 
remarks that people were trying to outdo him. 

"After he came back from California I noticed a 
decided change in him. He was more impulsive in 
his manner, and got riled at very little things, and I 
noticed a very peculiar look in his eyes after he came 
from the West." She then described at some length a 
controversy at the table, when she asked him whether 
he had made a certain slurring remark about her hus- 
band. "He said, 'Mrs. Wyman, if I knew who had 


told you that, I would kill him' — and by the expression 
of his face and eyes, I think he would have — he com- 
pletely lost control of himself — clenched his fists — he 
was very excited." Bertram had a hammock which he 
kept hung high to prevent others using it, and at times 
he would say that someone had interfered with the 
hammock, when there was no ground for such an ac- 
cusation, and he would get excited and tremble. 
"Oftentimes," continued Mrs. Wyman, "he would be 
in the dining-room and no one there; I was in the 
kitchen, and he would call out and ask me if I was 
talking to him — when no one would be speaking. I 
would see him sit at the table or in a chair — he would 
sit in a moody condition, and then all of a sudden he 
would brace up and ask if anyone was talking. One 
time, especially after he came from the West, we had 
a phonograph, and Bert being fond of music, I invited 
him up to the room to hear the phonograph. He sat 
all the evening until it was time to go away, and the 
only word he spoke that evening was 'Good-night.' " 

Mr. Willard L. Wyman, a brakeman on the Boston 
and Albany Road, had formerly been an attendant for 
two and a half years at the Northampton State Hos- 
pital for the Insane. He had worked with Spencer 
and boarded at Mrs. Walter's for some time while 
Spencer was there. Wyman said of Spencer, "He sat 
down in the house — in the kitchen; we would be talk- 
ing. Perhaps he would sit there for twenty minutes and 
perhaps an hour, and he wouldn't say anything — then 
he would look up and say, 'Did you speak to me?' He 
would pick up his hat and go out — he wouldn't say 
anything. I have seen him act that way on several 


different occasions when we were all in the kitchen 

Wyman told of one occasion when he was conductor 
on a car and Spencer was motorman on the same car. 
Spencer insisted that Wyman should come out front 
and sing with him. Wyman declared that he could not 
sing, but Spencer urged that he join in on the chorus. 
"When he got to the chorus, I come in with him; he 
told me it wasn't high enough. He started over again, 
and when he got to the chorus I come in again. He 
told me I couldn't sing any more than a damned hog — 
went to the back end of the car and didn't speak to me 
again all night. He spoke up kind of quick. He was 
kind of white when he pulled the curtain to go inside 
— I turned my head around and he looked as though 
he was going to fight in a minute. The next morning 
he come down to breakfast and says, 'Hello, Billy,' 
just the same as though nothing had happened." 

Others of Spencer's companions of this period spoke 
of his peculiarities. Napoleon Bourque of West 
Springfield told of Spencer's peculiar paleness when 
angry about a baseball glove. He refused to speak to 
Bourque for over twenty-four hours after this quarrel. 
Hs had also noticed Spencer's sudden paleness on an- 
other occasion, when he had passed in the street a 
man who he thought had misused him. Robert E. 
Miles, who had been fireman on the Boston & Maine 
R. R. when Spencer was brakeman, told of Spencer's 
having threatened him with a revolver after a scuffle 
in which he had knocked Spencer down. 

Spencer was married on March i8th, 1908. He had 
been for some time paying attentions to Miss Minnie 


Amberg, a bookkeeper and stenographer, daughter of 
Herman L. Amberg, who was employed by the H. L. 
Handy Company. Mr. Amberg objected to the match, 
and he testified at the trial that after Bert had been 
calling on his daughter for about a year, he came one 
Sunday and wanted to take Miss Amberg out by force, 
her father having refused to let her go out with him 
that day. "He called me all the names you could think 
of," said Mr. Amberg, "and he threatened to kill me. 
He was going to knock my head off. The girl left my 
house and got married without my consent, and we had 
a falling out and I didn't see any of them for a year." 
Bertram and Miss Amberg took out a license in Spring- 
field, and were married in Boston the same day. They 
lived for awhile at 53 Greenwich St., Springfield, and 
it is said that he lost his position on the Boston & Maine 
R. R., where he was employed as brakeman, through a 
row that he had with the engineer because he insisted 
on ringing the engine bell as a signal to his wife every 
time they passed Greenwich Street. 

Bertram had many positions in Springfield, never 
remaining very long in the same place. He was not 
only, at various times, motorman and conductor on the 
street railway, fireman and brakeman on the railroad, 
but, according to the Springfield Republican, he was 
employed in the Stevens-Duryea Factory at Chicopee 
in the shipping room, afterwards by the Atlas Motor 
Car Company, and still later he went to work for the 
H. L. Handy Company, where his father-in-law also 

Several events are described as having taken place 
after his marriage which are particularly significant. 
At one time he started with his wife, his sister, Mrs. 


Pulz, and her husband for a row on the river. The 
boat they intended to use belonged to his wife's grand- 
father, Mr. Krailing, a German who owned the house 
in which the Spencers lived on Porter Avenue, and 
who lived with his wife in the upper apartment. Spen- 
cer asked Krailing for the key to the place where the 
oar-locks were kept and Krailing said he didn't know 
just where it was, and had no time to hunt for it. Mrs. 
Pulz said at the trial, "My brother was very angry. 
He immediately started for Mr. Krailing and said he 
would throw him into the river. My husband, Mr. 
Spencer's wife and myself did as much as we could to 
hold Mr. Spencer — my husband had hold of his arm, 
and I had my arms around his neck. We pleaded with 
him not to touch Mr. Krailing, and it was with great 
effort that we restrained him. He was all the time, 
during this time, talking very loudly — screaming at 
the top of his voice, so that it could be heard, I should 
have said, a quarter of a mile away. A crowd collected 
from the houses near. He said, 'Let me get at him! 
I want to throw him in the river.' He had a very wild 
look in his eyes — there was a glassy look about them." 
Mrs. Pulz said she had seen him have such outbreaks 
a great many times — "As long ago as I can remember, 
he was never able to control himself if anyone crossed 
him." She had observed his tendency to melancholy 
moods, and said that one had only to point a finger at 
him with the suggestion of tickling to cause him to 
scream and laugh and run away. 

All those present at the time of the attack upon Mr. 
Krailing seem to have been impressed by the violence 
of Bertram's outbreak. Mr. Norman Pulz, husband 
of Bertram's sister, said that "when Spencer got mad 


he was in a frenzy — he would shout as if he didn't 
know what he was saying — mixed his words all up. 
I always tried to get along with him the best I could — 
I knew his temper." Mr. Krailing, in confirming the 
story of the attack upon himself, spoke as if he were 
afraid of Spencer — "He looked so bad. . . . He 
looked all the time bad. He don't look good to me — 
I am afraid for him. He has a bad eye for me, and I 
think he was crazy." Mrs. Krailing, who was also a 
witness to this incident, said, "He looked just like a 
wild man. His eyes were sticking out. I was afraid, 

Speaking of his character as a neighbor, Mrs. Krail- 
ing said, "Oh, he was most all the time nervous — I 
saw him all the time" — meaning daily, as they lived 
under the same roof. . . . "He was sometimes all the 
time nervous and doing something that was not right. 
He killed his bird — his canary bird. I saw him stand- 
ing there on the back piazza, and he was pale and his 
eyes sticking out — just kind of nervous, all worrying, 
and his mind — he looked so worried about it, so half- 
nervous — he looked half out of his mind; that is the 
reason I didn't ask nothing of him." In her broken 
English, she described another incident, when he killed 
a cat: "He come out of the cellar and got the cat and 
bumped it on the pieces and threw it on the river on 
the ice. I don't know what for — he was half crazy, too 
— he looked so." 

On another occasion, Spencer's mother and sister 
were spending an evening with the young couple in 
their home. Bertram and his sister sang several songs 
together, and then Bertram complained of headache 
and lay down on the couch. His sister continued sing- 


ing, and suddenly Bertram jumped up and asked her 
why she had not been over to see them in the last two 
weeks. She said she had been busy and unable to come, 
whereupon, as his mother put it, "he went into those 
frenzies and cursed and swore — called her names — he 
seemed much excited. It lasted all the rest of the eve- 
ning. When he had one of these attacks he had a wild 
stare and looked more like a wild animal than a human 
being; he made a peculiar noise with the throat. He 
would hoarse right up as soon as he began to talk; he 
would raise his voice, which would become almost a 

After he returned to live in Springfield, Bertram 
went back to Lebanon occasionally to visit. Charles 
A. Gager testified at the trial that he had met him 
there at a dance, and that he had seen him draw a 
pistol during a heated argument with another man, 
who knocked it from his hand. 

Mrs. Spencer had an idea that Bert's career as a 
burglar began in 1903 — that it was suggested to him by 
the following occurrence: 

Bert's mother was told by a neighbor that Bert had 
been arrested for burglary. A Hartford paper had 
published an account of the crime, and said that the 
criminal was named Bertram G. Spencer. Mrs. Spen- 
cer hurried to Springfield, and found Bertram in bed 
at his boarding place, 105 North Main Street. He 
had been working late the night before and had not 
yet risen. Mrs. Spencer said, "Bert started out the 
next day to follow up the story, and traced it to Philo 
Burgess, who lived near South Windham, whose son 
was determined to go with the girl I have referred to 
before. It seems two men, one a mulatto and the other 


a white man, had been arrested for entering houses 
with false keys and burglarizing. One gave his name 
as Bertram Spencer, and was possibly one of two boys 
who came from state homes to work for us, one of 
whom proved to be dishonest. What I am aiming at is 
this: after Bert went back to Springfield, in almost 
every letter he would sign his name 'Bert the Burglar' 
— ridiculing the idea of his ever doing such a thing." 
Bertram was of a suggestible nature, and it is possible 
that this episode and the repetition of the signature 
may have helped to urge him on to his career of crime. 
Eight months before his arrest, Spencer went to work 
for H. L. Handy & Company. Mr. Horace H. 
Clement, a buyer for the H. L. Handy Company, 
testified as follows: "I spoke to him one day about a 
car that did not check out right and he lost his temper; 
he cried and swore, and there was a hatchet that was 
on an egg-case, and he reached for that. He was ex- 
cited — he didn't appear to have much control of him- 
self. He shut himself into the butter refrigerator." 
Mr. Handy, in telling of this incident, said, "I heard 
him talking to Mr. Clement, and Mr. Clement saw in 
what condition he was and decided he could do nothing 
with him. . . . He made actions as if to grab a hatchet, 
but didn't, and then turned and went into the butter 
box." Mr. Handy followed him, and saw him in one 
corner cf the refrigerator, crying. "He had his arms 
over his face, sobbing loudly." 

Examination by Alienists 

At the time of Spencer's arrest, Stephen S. Taft was 
District Attorney for Hampden County. Spencer's 
history may here be continued by a quotation from a 


speech which Mr. Taft made on October 31st, 1910, 
during his campaign for re-election for office. After 
referring to the semi-judicial nature of the office of 
District Attorney, Mr. Taft took up the Spencer case 
and said: 

''In the latter part of April a most brutal homicide 
was committed in this city. People were nervous, ex- 
cited, horrified, and it was felt by everyone that there 
was but one punishment which ought to be meted out 
to the perpetrator of the crime. Four days after the 
homicide, Spencer was arrested, and after the property 
stolen from the house in which the unfortunate woman 
was killed had been identified, confessed that he was 
the man. Under the law of the Commonwealth, the 
Attorney-General has direction of all capital cases, and 
the duty of preparing and presenting the case was 
placed upon me by the Attorney-General. 

''The facts were presented to the next Grand Jury 
in May, and an indictment for murder in the first 
degree was found. At that sitting of the Court Spencer 
was arraigned and counsel were appointed by the Com- 
monwealth to defend him. The senior counsel, ap- 
pointed by the Court on May i6th, 1910, was excused 
from service because of ill health, and on August 3rd, 
1910, other counsel was substituted for him by the Chief 
Justice. The case was set for trial at the earliest pos- 
sible moment after such counsel had been appointed. 
Because of the repairs in the Court House, there was 
no court room in which a trial could have been had 
until one week before the time fixed, and during that 
week the Grand Jury was in session. 

"A statute passed by the Legislature in 1909 pro- 


If a person under complaint or indictment for any crime is, at 
the time appointed for the trial or sentence, or at any time prior 
thereto, found by the Court to be insane, or in such mental condition 
that his commitment to a hospital for the insane is necessary for 
the proper care and observation of such person, pending the determina- 
tion of his insanity, the Court may commit him to a state hospital 
for the insane, under such limitations as it may order. 

"The counsel for the defendant, taking advantage of 
this statute, asked the Court tc determine whether 
Spencer was insane, or whether his commitment to a 
hospital was necessary for proper care and observation 
pending the determination of his sanity. The only 
question before the Court was whether such commit- 
ment was necessary. Spencer had been, at my request, 
examined by three alienists, and every one of them told 
me that in their judgment his commitment was neces- 
sary. A district attorney can not employ alienists with- 
out the consent of the Court. I understand that it has 
been suggested that, when it was found that the three 
alienists consulted would not declare Spencer to be 
sane, it was the duty of the District Attorney to have 
employed other experts. I did not so conceive my 
duty at that time, nor do I now. Three men, eminent 
in their profession, two of them in the employ of the 
State, had been consulted, and it seemed to me then 
and it seems to me now, that their statements should be 
taken as true. I understand that the other candidate 
for the office has said that I am capable, hortest — but 
that in this case I showed a lack of discretion; that T 
ought not to have put the alienists upon the stand; and 
with this proposition I take issue. In my judgment, a 
district attorney, knowing that there was serious ques- 
tion concerning the mental condition of a defendant 


about to be brought to trial, who should conceal the 
information and proceed with the trial and perhaps 
obtain a verdict which should send the defendant to 
the electric chair, would be derelict in his duty and 
almost as culpable as many convicted defendants." 

The above extract sums up the situation as to the 
experts' examination, but a few details are of interest. 
Mrs. Spencer wrote me that after Bertram's arrest she 
read an article written by Dr. Philip Kilroy, a nerve 
and brain specialist of Springfield, saying that Bertram 
was "no more responsible than a child for what he had 
done." The devoted mother immediately saw Dr. Kil- 
roy and told him Bertram's history, and the doctor 
suggested that she see District Attorney Taft and tell 
him all. "Mr. Taft was a stern man," she writes, "but 
he seemed interested in what I told him, and assured 
me he would consider the matter, but of course would 
be obliged to do his duty. ... By sending Bertram to 
Bridgewater and taking the attitude he did, Mr. Taft 
lost his office as District Attorney that fall." 

The press generally having described the burglar as 
"a defective," "an abnormal person," "a pervert," "a 
maniac," etc., it was only natural that the District At- 
torney should take up the question of Spencer's sanity. 
Within forty-eight hours after his arrest. Dr. John A. 
Houston, Superintendent of the Northampton State 
Hospital, was called in to examine the prisoner. He 
expressed such doubts as to Spencer's mental condition 
that other experts were called in. 

In May, 1910, Col. Charles L. Young had asked the 
Court to appoint himself and Christopher T. Callahan 
as Spencer's counsel. Mr. Callahan was ill at the time, 


but as soon as he was able to go to Springfield he pro- 
tested against being connected with the defense of 
Spencer, and Judge Schofield excused him from serv- 
ice. Mr. Richard P. Stapleton was shortly afterwards 
appointed in his stead. The reason for the assignment 
of counsel at this time was that the trial of the case 
was set down for September, 1910. 

On Saturday, September 17th, 1910, Chief Justice 
Aiken and Judge Sanderson held a hearing on the 
Spencer case, and four alienists appeared before them, 
representing the Commonwealth and the defense. 
These alienists, Drs. Courtney, Quinby, Houston and 
Tuttle, all agreed that Spencer's commitment to an 
asylum for observation was the proper procedure. 
Their testimony was as follows: 

Dr. Houston testified that he had been connected 
with institutions for the insane for twenty-three years, 
and had been Superintendent of Northampton State 
Hospital for thirteen years. He said that he had ex- 
amined Spencer three times, and had not been able to 
satisfy himself that Spencer was responsible; that he 
believed the man should be sent to a hospital for ob- 
servation. Dr. Houston said that he considered Spen- 
cer insane — that is, that his was a defective mental 
state, if not degenerative, probably dating from 

Dr. Tuttle testified that he had been connected with 
the McLean Hospital as physician or as Superintend- 
ent for thirty-one years; that he had seen Spencer at 
the request of the District Attorney, and that he be- 
lieved that he was a proper person to be committed to 
an insane asylum for observation. Later he testified 
that Spencer ''was a defective individual and had been 


so from birth," and said he was not certain whether the 
man could resist doing wrong. 

Dr. Hosea M. Quinby testified that he had been 
Superintendent of Worcester State Hospital for over 
thirty years, and that he had examined Bertram G. 
Spencer twice at the request of the District Attorney. 
He said that these examinations, together with Spen- 
cer's heredity, the confession, the manner in which he 
conducted the burglaries, incidents connected with the 
burglaries and his impulsive outbreaks at other times 
during his life, indicated to him a person who was 
suffering from some mental aberration, and it was his 
opinion that it was a case which would at least eventu- 
ate in dementia precox. He said that he had examined 
Spencer first alone, and then in the presence of Dr. 
Houston and Dr. Courtney, and that he thought it very 
fitting that Spencer should be sent to Bridgewater 
where he could be further observed. 

Dr. Joseph W. Courtney testified that he had made 
four examinations of Spencer — one in the presence of 
Drs. Houston and Quinby — that he felt there were 
grave doubts as to Spencer's responsibility, and sug- 
gested that he be put under observation in a proper 
institution for that purpose. Later he said that he 
considered Spencer "insane and irresponsible." 

When these examinations were made there was no 
question in the minds of these experts of Spencer's 
malingering, and this array of experienced psychia- 
trists had no doubt as to his abnormality, and were 
unanimous in their opinion that he was a proper case 
for the Bridgewater State Hospital for further observa- 
tion. Spencer at this time had had no opportunity to 
observe and imitate an insane person or a mental de- 


fective, and it would be an insult to one of these emi- 
nent experts to imagine that he could have been de- 
ceived by Spencer in examinations made immediately 
after his arrest — or indeed at any other time. The fact 
that the Commonwealth's experts were unanimous in 
their opinion certainly justifies the course pursued by 
District Attorney Taft. 

After Spencer's arrest, his lawyers, Stapleton and 
Young, requested a change of venue, on the ground 
that there was so much popular feeling against the 
prisoner in and about Springfield that it would be 
impossible to get an unprejudiced jury in Hampden 
County. They asked for a hearing in Worcester 
County. It is said that a change of venue has never 
been granted in the State of Massachusetts, and with 
no precedent, Chief Justice Aiken refused their 

With Spencer, locked in the jail, was Eugene Farrar 
of Springfield. He was supposed to keep continual 
watch over Spencer, so that he might do no harm to 
himself, and was with him eighteen days. He later 
testified that Spencer "acted queer" and that he 
"thought he was insane," that he spent much of his 
time catching flies on the wall, that in the midst of a 
game of cards, he threw the cards down and accused 
Farrar of cheating, grabbed the cards from the table, 
threw them on the floor, picked them up and began to 
tear them — and ended by sitting down on his bunk and 

Under date of April 27th, 1910, Spencer wrote to 
his mother from Hampden County Jail, Springfield. 
This is the first letter I have from Spencer to his 

6 -o P 

< < .S 


My dear, dear Mother, 

Your three loving, heartbroken letters are before me. I hardly 
know where to begin, as we are allowed only one sheet of paper 
and one envelope a day. . . . When I think of it, I almost go blind 
with grief — cry and think and think and cry, and when I get through 
am all at sea to know ivhy'j oh Mother, why it ever happened or had 
to be. God knows I always tried, oh so hard ! to do right by every- 
one. This impulse has followed me from ten to twelve years old 
up to the Round Hill affair. Oh ! to God ! I could go to sleep and 
forget it all — but no; I dream about it, and when I awnke there 
are the barred windows and doors to refresh my memory. Oh, dear! 
will this awful torture ever end! It has taken me over an hour 
to come this far, and I may have to finish in the morning as my head 
is bursting. Keep up, Mother dear! There is a crown of glory 
awaiting you on the other shore — and there I want to go, too. When 
we are laid to rest, may we lie side by side to all eternity. 

In a later letter he writes : 

Only yesterday someone put in the paper that I had my cell 
decorated with women's pictures and flowers, and all I have and want 

is Mother's, Minnie's, Colly's and Wilbur's These are the "vile 

pictures," etc., that the paper has got to talk about. 

While Spencer was in jail, his behavior varied from 
day to day, and at times he became violent. Dr. 
Charles P. Hooker, the jail physician, said that he was 
called to the jail to see the prisoner on May i8th, 1910, 
and found the patient writhing about on the floor with 
his wrists in a muff, which the prison officials had put 
on to restrain him. Later Spencer accused Dr. Hooker 
of trying to poison him. Dr. Hooker testified that he 
threatened Spencer with the dungeon if he did not 
behave, *'You are faking, Spencer. You have the 
choice of one of two things : either go into the dungeon 
on bread and water for ten days, or go back to your cell 
and behave yourself." The insane are often amenable 
to threats and punishment, so Spencer went back to his 
cell and was quiet for a time. 


Transfer to Bridgewater 

Immediately after the hearing, September 17th, 
1 9 10, at which the expert alienists gave their testimony, 
Chief Justice Aiken ordered Spencer to be removed to 
the Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminal insane 
for observation. In the order for his removal, the 
Chief Justice said, "It appearing to the Court from the 
testimony of experts in insanity, that Bertram G. Spen- 
cer, of Springfield, in said County, under an indict- 
ment for murder, is in such condition that his commit- 
ment to a hospital for the insane is necessary for his 
proper care and observation, pending the determina- 
tion of his sanity. . . ." 



September IQth, IQIO, to August 1st, IQII 

Spencer was removed to the Bridgewater State Hos- 
pital on September 19th, and a month later the Super- 
intendent, Dr. Elliott, made the following report to 
the Chief Justice, in accordance with the order of the 
Chief Justice that reports of Spencer's condition should 
be sent to him monthly. 

Bridgewater State Hospital, 

at Bridgewater, Mass. 
Railroad Station: Titicut, (N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R.) 
Alfred Elliott, M.D,, Medical Director. 

October 17th, 1910. 
To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

In accordance with the order of the Honorable Court, I 
hereby report on the condition of Bertram G. Spencer, who was 
committed to this Hospital from the Superior Court at Springfield, 
September 19th last, for the purpose of determining his mental 

When Spencer was admitted he was somewhat depressed and emo- 
tional. He was coherent, however, and realized why he was sent 
here. Voluntary attention at this time was somewhat defective, and 
memory, especially for remote events, fragmentary and unreliable. 
Patient has not shown evidence of hallucinations at any time of our 
examinations, but has manifested some weak, ill-defined ideas, which 
may almost be classified as delusions of persecution. These ideas, 
however, are not firmly fixed, and do not influence his life or actions, 
and are evidently the result of faulty judgment and at present have 
no important relation to patient's mental condition. 



Apparently patient's most prominent mental symptoms lie in the 
sphere of moral sense. Since early childhood he has followed per- 
verted sexual acts, and even after his marriage, was addicted to 
masturbation. He is entirely without remorse for the many crimes 
of his past, without sorrow and without pity for the people he has 
wronged, and he relates them without the slightest evidence of 
mental anguish. The only sorrow expressed in connection with his 
past life is solely because his deeds have reacted to his personal 
disadvantage, and have resulted in depriving him of his liberty. He 
shows no true appreciation of the enormity of his crimes or the 
remote consequences of the same. His reasoning on all important 
subjects or events of his life is manifestly rudimentary and superficial. 

In his daily hospital life he is imaginative, fault-finding, impulsive 
and very sensitive. At times he is childish, will sulk, refuse to talk 
and assume the attitude of a much injured person. At other times 
he is very emotional. Will talk about suiciding, and an hour later 
will be enjoying a game of ball or entertaining the other patients 
by singing. He often intimates that the officers are down on him 
and against him, but this idea apparently finds no permanent place 
in his mind. At times he manifests symptoms that suggest the be- 
ginning of a delusional and dementing process, but of this it is too 
soon to speak with any degree of certainty. 

At the present time, it is my opinion that the degree of Spencer s 
mental deficiency and the obliquity of his moral nature is so great 
that it constitutes real insanity. Aside from this there are symptoms 
that call for further observation and study. 
Very truly yours, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

After Spencer's transfer to the Bridgewater State 
Hospital, his suggestible nature soon showed the effect 
of what he saw, heard and felt at this institution. This 
is best told in his own words, in letters which he wrote 
from Bridgewater and in a diary which he kept during 
his residence there, from which I extract such parts as 
show the conditions under which this young man was 
placed for observation as to his sanity, and his reaction 
to the sort of hospital environment into which he was 
thrown, and to the unpleasant experiences to which he 
was subjected as a witness or which were related to 


him by his sane and insane criminal companions. Dis- 
tressing as they were, many of the incidents here re- 
lated were corroborated by other inmates and attend- 
ants, entirely without Spencer's knowledge, and some 
of them are cited to show what is evidently referred to 
in Dr. Elliott's reports as "almost delusions," "faulty 
judgment," "false conclusions," etc. There is a mixture 
in Spencer's letters and diary of what at times were 
evidently delusions, and of what at other times are 
undoubtedly facts. Some of these stories may have 
originated in the brain of some companion of a stronger 
mind, who wished to see Spencer get excited, or who 
desired to use him to further some plan or complaint 
of his own. 

In one of the first letters Spencer wrote from Bridge- 
water State Hospital he describes conditions and says: 

... I hope and pray my trial comes right away and it is all over 
soon and I am sentenced to death, for then my troubles will soon 
be over; for this place is Hell, Hell, Hell on earth, and most every- 
one says it is growing worse every year. There is not one person 
up here in the Northeast who, when they ask a question can get a 
civil answer, and if things don't go just right they bang the door 
and rattle their keys in the lock, as if they were locking up beasts 
instead of human beings. ... I am getting near the truth and they 
are trying to punish me in all sorts of ways, but I laugh Ha, ha, ha! 
A man referred to me as a witness about what the attendants and 
night watchmen were doing and Dr. Elliott says "You don't want to 

pay any attention to what he says He's not reliable," ... If 

I can't get any more satisfaction in asking for what I want than 
I have in the past, what's the use of asking? It only keeps me all 
stirred up, and my head aches enough almost every day without 
being tantalized almost to death or otherwise irritated. There are 
over 25 murderers in the big court of about 300, and where I am 
only two — and why should they not let me in the other yard? . . . 
I get so wrought up I can't sleep half the night, and I get up and 
pace my room. 

In a letter every line of which is underscored, dated 
from "State Tantalization, Titicut, Mass., Oct. 25th, 


1910," he writes to his father and mother of the "hun- 
dred words from Doctors Elliott and Baker," and says: 

You shall hear them and they shall be sown broadcast, no matter 
what I have to suffer. . . . Death ten thousand times — ten thousand 
times, than to be confined in a prison of Hell on earth because the 
ones at the head down to the stool pigeons are the cause. Only 
this last week the night watchman beat up another poor fellow, and 
every one is powerless to raise a finger, and his cries for help are 
heartrending. Why, in the name of humanity, aren't these things 
enacted when the public or the Union reporter is there???? No, it 
is done when everyone is supposed to be blind. Baker says to me, 
with his cunning smile, "Did you see all this with your own eye?" 
"No, I did not." He says, "Oh, then it's not so; for men can fall 
down," he says, "and get cut and bruised without being struck." How 
smart! There are two men I have become acquainted with since I 
came here that are not crazy by any means, and they saw it all with 
their own eyes, and heard what I heard with my own ears. . . . All 
last night and today I have had one of my hard headaches and in 
the next room there is a fellow was up half the night one night last 
week, and he asked the night watchman if he could call the doctor, 
as he had severe pains, and the watchman said "Why, he won't come 
tonight — — You's have to wait till morning." So he did, and when 
the physician came round next morning the fellow started in to tell 
him, and the physician shut the peep-hole, not even waiting for the 
poor fellow to finish. What's the use of asking for anything 

In this same letter, after stating that he is confined 
in the "Northeast Violent Ward" on the top floor, and 
that the yard he is allowed to use is called the "Bull 
Pen" and contains seventeen persons, he writes : 

One of the "patient-attendants," who is perfectly sane, told me 
he would ask Dr. Baker if he w^ould let me go over in the other 
yard to play baseball and football. Baker says, "Why, he's up in 
the Northeast now, and if we let him go over there, we will have 
to let two or three others go." "Well," this fellow says, "He has 
never done anything you should use him that way. Those others 
you spoke of, two tried to get away, and the other kicked a fellow 
to death. You've got cause to keep them over there, but 50U haven't 
Spencer, for he has not done anything." "Well," Baker says, "as far- 
as we're concerned, he should go over there, but the people outside 
would make a kick — see?" I am not here for kind treatment — it is 


only to make me suffer every way possible. . . . They set me at 
table where there were seemingly two nice fellows. The first day 
I sat there they offered me katsup, milk, doughnuts, etc., and I 
wondered how it was they were so well favored. ... I went to 
supper one night out of the three first and I said something and 
they hung their heads. I repeated it twice, thinking they did not 

hear me, but they did and would not speak Why ? — because they 

were 's and 's stool pigeons, and after trying to 

pump me about my case and find out nothing, then they were told 
to let me alone and not to speak — so the good little boys did just as 
they were told. Then after that, the one who sat opposite me every 
little while would carelessly drop his foot down on my foot. What 
was that for? Just to aggravate me into striking him, and tTien 
they would have an excuse for shutting me into my room. I get 
every kind of punishment that is given here but that and beating, 
so I can't suffer much worse. This morning an attendant came up 
and began, first one foot and then another, to wiggle my chair, which 
got me so worked up I could hardly contain myself. ... I heard 
direct from an attendant that they were going to judge me sane 
and send me back to Springfield for trial within six months. They 
have made an awful breech between fathers, mothers, wife, sister and 
brother, by saying their loved ones was using other men and boys 
for immoral purposes, which such things are impossible, as no one is 
allowed alone together, but their nice, lying way turns the loved 
ones. They seem delighted if a patient is forsaken and hated by 
everyone and if they can make enemies among the patients. 

In a letter of Nov. 20th, 1910, he writes: 

I am going to sing "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" today. Have 
been moved over in the big yard and another room since I was 
beaten, and am helping the boys in every way I can. . . . Love to 
my dear boy and you all. Write Minnie, and tell her how I am, 
and send her my deepest love and kisses. 

Under date of December 31st, 1910, he writes: 

Things have transpired that to anyone with a human mind seems 
impossible, and in the three months yesterday I have been here, I 
have heard from other mouths, heard with my own ears and seen 
with my own eyes that which, if before my arrest anyone had 
informed me of the same, I should have thought they were having 
the greatest of delusions, but it is all too true. . . . But when you 
told me at our interview yesterday, in Dr. Elliott's office, that my 
mother had requested you to call and talk with me, it was so 


unexpected that I could not say one half I could had we been alone, 
and not where I had to tell my affairs to the so-called "Devil's Angel." 
... I arrived at this place Monday, September 19th, and was put 
in the big yard for two days with 300 other unfortunates of from 
vagrants to the murderer, and dumb to the educated, and as the 
papers had predicted my coming, I was being anxiously awaited to 
pour their tales of woe in upon my own. As I listened, for awhile 
I forgot my own troubles, and wondered if what these fellows were 
saying were true. It all seemed like a dream, and I tried to drive 
such thoughts away. The first night I slept in what is called Cor- 
ridor 3, in H. Building, with my window open all night, no pillow 
and only a thin blanket, with the night-watchman — nurse, Dr. Elliott 
calls them — looking in upon me every hour, with a bulls-eye light, 
which kept me restless. But my room was clean and my bed com- 
fortable, and I was making up my mind to like my surroundings 
and make the most and do my best in everything. My mother and 
wife came the next day to see me, and I told of the room I had, 
and I thought by Dr. Elliott's and Baker's seemingly courteousness 
that I would be encouraged in many ways; but instead, the reverse, 
which I will state to the best of my education and ability, which 
is limited. In two days I was changed from this ward into what is 
known all over the buildings as the worst ward and yard in the place 
— the Northeast — and the yard is termed the "Bull Pen," where the 
very worst are considered to be. . . . We have not a truthful word 
to say or write about it, being intercepted by Dr. Elliott, Baker and 
Nugent, and branded as delusions or hallucinations. Different ones 
were speaking of the changes they were making me undergo, as I had 
done nothing that they should put me in the "Bull Pen," so I asked 
the doctors why they had put me over there, and they said "because 
it's quiet and no confusion" — and by far it was the noisiest. 

He goes on to describe conditions in the Northeast 
and the "Bull Pen," and says that the bed to which he 
was transferred sagged in the middle, so that his back 
ached every morning; that he asked Dr. Baker to 
change the spring, but Dr. Baker answered, "I guess 
its good enough"; that his toothbrush, soap, towel, 
handkerchiefs and other little things were kept from 
him until his family interfered, although they were in 
the dress-suit case taken from him when he entered the 
hospital. He cites many instances of abuse. Among 
other things he writes: 



There is an attendant here who is so ignorant that he has to 
have one of the patients make out his report, and I saw this same 
attendant, because he could not get a muff off a patient's hand 
quick enough, and because his fellow attendants were laughing at his 
clumsiness — he drew back and slapped his charge side of the face, 
and the poor fellow was standing there patiently waiting for the 
attendant to finish unbuckling. Another attendant by the name of 

, because a patient stopped in line to talk to an imaginary 

person, grabbed him by the collar, pulled him away, struck him 
an arm blow in the back of his neck, and kept kicking him in the 
backsides out of my sight. . . . An attendant by the name of 

helped tie a sheet around an old man's neck of almost sixty 

years, gave him a beating and kept him in his room for three days. 

On March 3rd, 191 1, Spencer wrote: 

I sent out something like fifteen or sixteen letters for you and 
others to read, and then go to the Governor, E. M. Foss, but through 
the advice of Mr. Thompson of Hartford, Mr. Smith of Lebanon 
was advised to send them all to Dr. Copp, and he in turn sent a 
Dr. Fuller here. As soon as he began to question us, everyone began 
to be skeptical and suspicious, for he began by saying "You sent out a 
letter to Dr. Briggs and others by Spencer, did you not? — I am from 
the Board of Insanity, representing Dr. Copp, and I am here in 
his interests." Well, that put a damper on everything, for some of 
these men knew of Dr. Copp . . . and as soon as they saw me after 
this interview, they told me of their fears, and it has all come true. 
They are trying to give everything a clean whitewash and protect 
Dr. Elliott and Dr. Baker, saying we are doing Dr. Elliott a great 

On January 15th, 191 1, the following letter was writ- 
ten by Dr. Owen Copp, Executive Officer of the State 
Board of Insanity, to the Rev. Eugene B. Smith, of 
Lebanon, Conn.: 

Dear Sir: 

The matters referred to in your letter, with enclosures, of 
Jan. 23rd, relative to the conditions at Bridgewater State Hospital, 
have been carefully inquired into, with the following result: 

The authors of these letters are among the most desperate, dan- 
gerous and discontented men in this institution of imbecile and insane 
criminals. Unfortunately, they must be kept securely on one ward, 
where there is opportunity for exchange of ideas and experiences, 
and collusion in their determined purpose to get away. These men 


have formed many cunning and skillful plans for escape, which 
have fortunately been frustrated — oftentimes by the confession of 
one of the insane collaborators. // is to be regretted that for a time 
Spencer was obliged to stay in this ward, and so was subjected to 
the worst influences of the institution. He was found pliable in the 
hands of older criminals, who attempted, as they do on every occasion, 
to create a sensation and seek some possible means of escape. Spen- 
cer's complaints are found to be almost entirely from hearsay. Those 
which relate to his own maltreatment are confined to one instance, 
when he alleges he was struck by a blackjack by an attendant. Very 
careful inquiry into the matter shows that there was no witness 
to such an occurrence, that examination of Spencer presented no 
evidence of such violence, and that another patient voluntarily 
told the Superintendent that he was asked to say that he saw the 
assault, but that he did not, and that he did not see how another 
patient (who said he saw it) could possibly have seen it. Spencer 
is a weak character; he shows poor judgment, and is now easily in- 
fluenced. Please do not infer that the authorities are not keenly 
aware of the possibilities and dangers of unkind and harsh treatment 
in the conditions which are bound to arise from time to time in such 
an institution. The opportunities for trouble are greater than in 
a jail, because of the greater freedom and closer association of the 
patients. As a result of our investigation, involving two visits to 
the hospital by a physician from this office, and conversations with 
authors of the letters which you sent us, as well as with the officers 
of the hospital, the conclusion has been reached that these complaints 
are in some instances gross exaggerations, and in others, fabrica- 
tions. Some of the occasions mentioned have been subjects of the 
most thorough investigation. It is the impression at the hospital that 
Spencer himself has become wiser, and appreciates to some extent 
that he has been imposed upon. He has for some time been removed 
from the ward where these more troublesome patients are located, 
and is doing some better. We thank you for calling our attention to 
this matter, and will be glad to answer any further questions which 
you may ask. 

Trusting that this may help to relieve your anxiety over the situa- 
tion, I am 

Very truly yours, 

(Signed) Owen Copp, Exec. Officer. 

In a letter written to his mother in February, 191 1, 
Spencer says: 

Who recommended Dr. Copp to Mr. Smith, and did he (Mr. 
Smith) go to see Dr. Briggs, or send those letters to him? It looks 


to all here that Dr. Elliott or Dr. Copp had influenced Mr. Smith. 
. . . Dr. Fuller asked me why I sent those letters to Dr. Briggs and 
by whom, and I said Mr. Smith. 

On February 25th, 191 1, he wrote to his wife a letter 
in which he said: 

I am still living in the courage for the approaching day that I can 
crush the rascals that branded me as a lunatic and confined me in 
this murderous den — an innocent man of crime — and not only that, 
but robbed me of the support you deserved from me, my darling 
wife. ... If I can, I will put a stop to this idea of keeping sane 
men confined in this department. . . . Doctors and attendants hate 
me as they hate the Devil — I have no doubt but that they will 
attempt to turn your kind affection from me, if you pay any atten- 
tion to them. They have many poor fellows confined here for years 
for nothing but a simple offence of drunkenness. . . . 

From Spencer's diary while he was at Bridgewater 
State Hospital, I extract the following: 

Meals at Hotel Tantilization for a week, beginning Tuesday, Nov. 
I St, 1 9 10: Corn meal, molasses P. Rico, bread and oleo, tea and 
water; Wednesday A.M.: hash, bread and oleo, coffee and water; 
noon, pea soup, bread, coffee and water; night, apple sauce, bread 
and oleo, tea and water. Thursday A.M., rice and molasses, bread, 
oleo, tea and water; noon, stew, bread, coffee and water; night, bread, 
oleo, gingerbread, coffee and water. Friday A.M., oatmeal and 
molasses, bread, oleo, tea and water; noon, clam-chowder — tastes 
like a sewer smells — bread, coffee and water; night, bread, oleo, 2 
doughnuts, tea and water. Saturday A.M., corncakes and molasses, 
bread, oleo, coffee and water; noon, meat, turnip, 2 potatoes, bread, 
coffee and water; night, gingerbread, 8 prunes, bread, oleo, tea and 
water. Sunday A.M., beans, bread and oleo, coffee and water; Sun- 
day noon, Nov. 6th, 19 10, meat, 2 potatoes, bread, rice pudding, 
coffee and water; night, mush and molasses, 2 doughnuts, bread and 
oleo, tea and water. Monday A.M., bologna, bread and oleo, coffee 
and water; noon, stew, bread, coffee and water; night, apple sauce, 
bread, coffee and water. Tuesday A.M., hash, bread, oleo, coffee 
and water. This ends the bill of fare for each week alike. 

Treatment to patients at State Hospital, Titicut, Mass., begin- 
ning Wednesday night, Nov. 2nd, 1910. Had an awful pain at 
base of spine; asked for hot water bottle and doctor. Throbbed all 
night. None came, and at noon I was in pain, and Dr. — sent 
word by Supervisor — for him to tell me I would be better off 


out in the yard, so I had to go, much against my will, as it is 
so cold today. Tonight Dr. Nugent painted my back with iodine, 
Thursday night, Nov. 3rd. Saturday morning t\vo attendants 
knocked down and beat with fists King, a stubborn patient, Nov. 
5th, 1 9 10. Saturday, Nov. 6th, Joe Patterson asked the night 

watchman for a drink three times, and as he, , came around, 

Joe asked him a fourth time, and says "Shut your d 

mouth," and slammed the port. Sunday, 4 P.M. I asked Tom 
Pickles, Supervisor, if he would change my eating place so I could 
eat side of Mr. Childs, and buy and share eatables together. "No, oh 
no!" he said, "I can't do anything like that. You are not going 
to be here long anyway. It won't pay." It is getting so when I 
ask a favor of any kind the answer is always "We'll see," and that's 
the end of it. Over in the big yard they are out at play 20 minutes 
before we are, and stay there 15 to 20 minutes after we come in. 
Thursday, Nov. loth, 9.30 A.M., as we were out in the hall, waiting 
to go down into the yard, a patient by the name of Mike Murphy 
began to complain of what the attendant had done to him, and the 

head attendant, , told him to "shut up his yap," or he, 

would lock him up; but he kept right on talking, and 

came down to the foot of the stairs and grabbed him by the 

throat, and attendants and dragged him up the 

stairs far as his room, and then kicked him time and again, 

for all we stood in the door. I ran over to where the two were 

kicking him, and I says " , for Heaven's sake, what are you 

doing? Don't kick a man like that when he's helpless!" And he 
glared at me, saying, "Shut your mouth, or I will lock you up!" I 
said "I shall not shut up, and I shall report this." And he says 
"Ha ha! Your reporting will amount to about as much as the wind's 
blowing." I says "You just wait and see!" With that, he says, 
"Pull off your rags!" — doubling up his fists — "and I'll teach you to 
interfere." I says, "I'm not looking for any trouble, or to interfere, 
but you have no right to kick one." He says, "Go to your room." I 
says, "All right; that suits me to a T." When I got to my door I 

took off my shoes, and as I went to go in, he, , struck me an 

awful blow with his blackjack back of m*y ear, almost knocking me 
senseless. He says, "You think you can come here and tell us how 
to run this place," shaking his fist at me. He said "We'll fix you 
before you've been here long," slammed the door and went away. Oh, 
people little realize what we're up against. They little realize. Tom 
Pickles has just been up and I told him the whole story. He says, 
"Don't say anything outside ; they have no right to hit or kick either 
you or Mike Murphy and whenever you see or hear anything, just 
report it to me and I'll report it to the doctors." How was it he 

came up here so quick, if had not told him to try and 

smooth it all over in this nice way? They all hang together, and 


nothing can be done in their minds. How confident was 

my complaining would not amount to anything, and he was right, 
so far as anything coming from it in here. 

Thursday, Nov. loth, 19 10. — I am afraid. My head has bled 
and ached all the morning and afternoon. I sent a letter to Mother 
this noon, Nov. loth, 1910, asking for aid. Tom Pickles told me 
he would have the doctor call and give me something for the bruise 
and cut on my head. It ached and pained me so all night — I was 
walking most all night. I could eat no dinner yesterday — ^just a bite 
for supper, and no breakfast. 

It is now 8.30 A.M. Friday, and no doctor yet Seems as if 

my head would burst at times. I sent a letter to Dr. Elliott at 5 
P.M. last night, asking for an interview at his earliest. He has not 
come yet. Mr. Childs (a patient) told me yesterday he had had 
four or five attendants fired for brutality. ... I wrote another let- 
ter to Dr. Elliott, and sent it by Mr. Childs direct, 12.30 Friday 
noon. Dr. Elliott sent for me at 5 P.M., and after telling him 
of the brute , he said he would make a thorough investiga- 

Sun., Nov. 13th, 1910. Mr. Childs and I sang "Holy City" today. 
It was well-spoken of. Was introduced to Mr. Reuff, our regular 
and smart preacher. . . . 

Nov. 24th. An attendant was discharged Nov. 22nd, Tuesday 
night, for giving Archie Mills alcohol. Two attendants are over 
here two years and are not naturalized citizens yet and both are hard- 
hearted. For dinner, Turkey, squash, 2 potatoes, celery, bread and 
coffee, mince pie and dressing. ^ 

Sunday night, and beat Joe Patterson again. 

Everything is cold on the table, coffee, tea and eatables. A new 
attendant every other thing, and almost every one has the picture 
of brute stamped all over him. The fellows gamble, to help pass 
away the day, with dice, cards and quates. The candy Mother 
sent two weeks before Thanksgiving never came. People have com- 
plained time and again of never receiving their goods, going or com- 
ing— It's plain where they are held up. . . . 

Friday, Dec. 2nd, 1910. This same date I saw a fellow have a fit, 

and this (attendant) sat still and laughed at him. I have 

smelled liquor on their breath a number of times, and have heard 
Edward Holcroft often speak about same. There is a Post-Office 
on the prison side run by Horace Blackstone, and our mail is then 
brought over here and distributed by Charles Tibbitts, Clerk and 
Notary Public. Horace Blackstone is Superintendent. . . . 

Dr. Elliott claims to thoroughly look into each man's character 
before hiring. The last one he discharged is in Boston, tending bar. 
He calls them nurses. 

Sunday, Dec. 4th, 19 10. An inmate they call Dave was talking 


to himself, and an attendant mocked him for fully five minutes, 
and not until Dave got up and walked away did he stop. The 
storekeeper, Kingsley, is a town constable, and he certainly knows 
how to keep his price up on everything. Down in the mess room, 
everything is cold at every meal and the dishes are covered in 
grease; bread smells and tastes musty half the time. Dr. Baker 
says they never saw anything of my candy. The drinking fountain 
in the Upper North is filthy. There is a fellow who sleeps on the 
bare floor and gets beat every other thing. If any patient gets 
obstinate, they put him in a room, open the window, and he suffers 
from cold and exposure — not a thing is allowed him. Out in the 
yard this cold weather, without woolen underwear, woolen socks, 

sweater, or even to be comfortable. About religion ; Dr. 

has told patients religion was a farce, and Dr. Baker goes where 
there is a large crowd of woman singers. Dr. Elliott told my mother 

they were classifying the men fast as possible You ought to see 

what mingle together! — also that he was putting out every effort 
to broaden their minds and have the men have self-respect. Dr. 
Elliott says he looks into an attendant's character well before hiring 

Friday, Dec. 9th, 19 10. They think more of their wards than 
they do their dining rooms, and when people come they show them 
all the clean places and praise up the pomp and show. The library is 

positively no good All there is is in the double book-cases in the 

guard room. There is a Mr. Nolan who was knocked down, kicked 
and teeth knocked out, for asking an attendant to refrain from killing 
a patient, and his testicles were so injured that he urinated half a 
pint of blood, and he said a protestant brought him a rubber hot 
water bottle for relief. . . , Dr. L. Vernon Briggs of Boston never 
uttered a more true word than when he said these places hire brutes 
and ignorant people. 

Friday, Dec. i6th, 19 10. Harry Dale, who is an epileptic, falls 
down anywhere, and today he fell head first into a drift 
of snow% and two attendants stood by with their hands in 
their pockets, when three inmates ran up and straightened 
him up and took him to bare ground. That's a sample of 

's so-called nurses! . . . Ask about what Mr. Benjamin 

Morris has to say about this place and the treatment towards patients. 
Faxon, a patient who tears his clothes to pieces, is put in a room 
with nothing on — no bed to sleep on — and is beat almost dead at 
times. . . . Nagle, a patient who tried to get away a year ago, died 
a few days ago, and he was kept in a cold room, nothing to eat and 
often beat something awful. A colored fellow by the name of George 
Washington was beat and almost kicked to death by attendants, and 
witnessed by George Green, colored. He was choked and kicked to 
death by an attendant who has since left. . . . The table is never 


cleaned off at night, and in warm weather cockroaches and flies are 
in and on everything. Ice water through the winter, and in summer 
none is to be had at times. . . . 

Tuesday, Dec. 20th. Dr. L, Vernon Briggs of Boston was 
here and asked me to write him what I had seen first, what I had 
heard with my own ears at night, second, what has been told me by 
patients. I told him what Dr. Elliott had said about him. 

Wednesday, 6 A.M., Mr. John Murphy was choked and struck 
in his room by Attendant , because he is all the time pray- 
ing, and they say it is annoying to them. 

Mr. Smith of Lebanon was here today, Tuesday, Dec. 20th, 1910, 
and talked with Mr. Joe Hastings, Mr. Jim Johnson and Mr, Mike 
Murphy about my being hit Thursday, Nov. loth, 1910, by . 

Thursday, Dec. 28th, 1 9 10, and , attendants, 

used the strong arm on a patient, bending the poor fellow's arm 
around up under his shoulder blade, and pulling and yanking him as 
if he were a bag of sawdust until his clothes were half off him. His 
name is Joseph F. Sullivan. He is a dope, and his hands are almost 
black at times from some cause I do not know. 

Saturday, 9.50 A.M. Samuel Smith had a fit out in the yard and 
did not come out from it for ten minutes. Mr. Grifiin and I held his 
head off the cold ground, as it was raw and cold out. I rubbed one 
hand and Martin Griffin the other, an attendant walking back and 
forth taking no notice of him. When he came to enough to walk. 
Griffin and I helped him across the yard to his ward. There we 
asked an attendant to let him lie down, because he could hardly stand. 

The attendant said no, it was against the rules He would have 

to go down to the smoking room, where there is nothing but hard 
wooden benches and no backs to sit on, or lie down on the cement 
floor. One of the new attendants, here only a few days, by the 

name of , yelled at a patient this noon, saying "Hurry up 

there you G D fool, or I will have to help you!" 

Sunday night, January ist, 191 1, Nicholas di Flavio was beaten 

by two attendants, and , unmercifully. When he 

started to tell the doctor, he kissed his hand. A patient who is 
directly opposite, by the name of Joseph Perry, heard the attendants 
choke and punch this Italian. His age is about 55 years old. 

Monday afternoon, Jan. 2nd, 191 1, we were turned out into a 
hard rain for half an hour before Pickles let us in. Mr. Morris, 
an attendant, stood just inside of the door out of the rain, and 
Pickles started to call him down, and Mr. Morris said, "You needn't 
think I'm going to stand out there in the rain for no dollar a day 
job." Nothing more was said. We all came in, but wet almost 
through — then the next day we have to put on our damp clothes or 
go without. This Nicholas di Flavio was taken up to the hospital. 
Sunday night, January 8th, 191 1, a supervisor dragged Tom 


Welch out of the dining-room by the throat — strong arm hold. 

Dr. Elliott, on Monday Jan. 9th, 191 1, because he saw Burnett 
Westhaven, Chern and I fooling, told the attendant, Mr. Fenton, 
always to stop anyone who was fooling. He didn't say anything 
about stopping the patients when they get to fighting until one or 
other are cut and bruised — all these he never sees. . . . 

Monday. ... I reported Attendant for slapping Tom 

Welch, and today, Sunday, Jan. 15th, 191 1, he is gone. Whether he 
left or was discharged I do not know, but he is gone and the boys 

are rejoicing. has also been discharged. Why was it 

they kept ? 

Sunday, Jan. 22nd, 191 1, Jerard told me that said to an 

attendant that I was not sick — I was a big bluff so that I could stay 
in my room. "Why," says Morris, "He's a smart fellow!" "Smart 
fellow in what? — Killing a poor, innocent girl?" says . 

and Dr. Elliott come from the same place Nova 

Scotia. . . . 

Last night, Monday, Jan. 30th, 191 1, I had some names and 

dates of beatings done by and on the Northeast, 

and had been given to Joe Hastings, and he put the paper in his 
pocket with his private letters sent by Jim Johnson, and Attendant 

came down after Hastings had gone to bed, with two 

others, and took the piece of tissue paper out and destroyed it so I 
could not get it. Don't this go to show they are afraid it will get 
out? Swift is Attorney General. I see Mr. Dana Malone has no 
more to say. 

Monday, Feb. 6th, 191 1, at about 2:30 P. M., I was called out 
to the guard room in Pickles office to talk with Dr. Fuller, an agent 
of the State Board of Insanity, asking about what I wrote to Dr. 
Briggs for, also who I gave the letters to and if Mr. Smith took 
them, and why I had done this. I told him for the welfare of these 
poor unfortunates who had been so ill-used by doctors and attendants, 
and whenever I had reported the matter nothing was ever done. 
He asked me if I wrote to Mr. Faxon's father. I said yes, and told 
him I had seen him kicked, beat and made to go without his meals 
and bedding. Then he asked me about my trouble, and I told him 

about beating Mike Murphy and myself. I asked him 

about writing to the people I had wronged, and he said "I advise 
you not to." George Green and Josiah Johnson were called out, 
but never saw the doctor. Green is one of the principal witnesses, 
as he was years up in the hospital and saw two men absolutely killed 

by attendants, and he is feared by the doctors and Mrs. , 

the Matron up there, as she has sanctioned it all, making a remark 
once that she did wish an old man would hurry up and die, so she 
could have his room, as they were short of rooms. 


Friday, Feb. loth, at noon, while eating sewer clam chowder, this 
same doctor came in through the mess room, with Dr. Elliott in the 
lead. I was told he stopped in the inner dining room and tasted of 
the bread, spitting it out on the floor, also looking into the chowder 
can and surveying the room in general, but he hurried right througli 
where I eat, coming from the oflBce direction. He talked with 
Houldcraft, Nichol, Westhaven, Allen, etc., but left out Green and 
Johnson again. . . . 

Sunday, Feb. 26th, 191 1, while eating my dinner of cold beef, I 
saw a funny piece of fat, and on looking closely discovered it to be 
a big abscess — I was about to eat it when I discovered it. 

Thursday, March 2nd, 191 1. While in the North this A. M., I 
heard of Thomas Hamburg being taken into his room and beat by 

Supervisor and Head Attendant , for talking out 

loud. His face was covered in blood, and was witnessed by John 
Malvey and Lewis Rogers, Albert Russell, William Sullivan, and 
many others. At just before noon, an attendant by the name of 

kicked a patient in the legs and body for not standing in 


Same date, Friday, March 3rd, 191 1, and 

both supervisors, took Miles O'Leary, by both strong-arming him, 
out through the dining room and away down through the corridor, 
out of sight of us all — and then, such screams of pain! Then one of 
the attendants shut the door so we could not hear the screams, but 
we did, and in about two minutes the two supervisors came back, 
both white as sheets, as if they were all out of breath. Witnessed 
by George Green, Edgar Houldcroft, G. List and many others. Mr. 
Cody would like an interview with Dr. Briggs. At Thanksgiving 
time. Dr. Baker told me they killed over 40 hogs that weighed over 
250 pounds apiece, and the Boston paper said that 800 pounds of 
pork was to be eaten at BridgcAvater on that day with proper fixings. 
There are over 100 cows, and we hardly ever get any milk — no 
butter, only oleomargarine; over 1000 hens, and never an egg do 
we or the attendants see, so one tells me. Dopes help out in the 
kitchen to do the cooking, string and toilet paper are often found in 
the soup and gingerbread; cups, spoons and plates of tin are some- 
times filthy. 


Beautiful Queen of Roses, kissed by the morning dew, 

Each pretty flower discloses virtues I find in you. 

White means your soul so pure, dear, red means your love 

most true. 
You are my garden of beautiful roses — My own rose, 

my own rose, that's you. 



When I was but a boy, my mother's pride and joy, 

I wandered far from that dear fireside place; 

And the sorrow I have seen could not be placed upon a 

screen — 
You'll never miss your mother till she's gone. 


In fancy I see her there, seated in her old arm chair — 
You'll never miss your mother till she's gone. 

Wednesday, March 15th, 191 1. — Assistant Supervisor 

and Attendant strong-armed and choked a Jew by the 

name of Attar Naman at about 2 P. M., because he did not want 
to put on his shoes and go out doors. Witnessed by Patient Jerard. 

Monday, March 20th, 191 1. — This morning a patient came up 
to my door saying, "Have you heard the good news?" I said "No, 
what is it?" "There's a long piece in the Post about Governor Foss 
going to investigate all insane hospitals, and helped by Dr. L. Vernon 
Briggs." I shouted for joy and it has been read by husdreds already. 
What a happy expression on the men's faces when they were talking 
about it in the yard! There are many Boston Posts subscribed for 
by patients, but only one found its w-ay in. . . . This afternoon a 
patient by the name of Charles Murray, colored, fell on his knee, 
hurting it to that extent that he had to be carried up into the hos- 
pital. Upon arriving, Mrs. met them in the doorway, 

saying, after she had been told what they had brought him up for — 
"Take him right down again. I have had no orders to receive him 
yet." What a thing for a so-called matron to say and do! It shows 
. . . that the so-called hospital is by name only. Everj'one is watch- 
ing the papers with longing eyes for Governor Foss' and Dr. Briggs' 
glorious work towards the uplift of poor unfortunates. God bless 
them both! 

Tuesday, March 21st, 191 1. — Attendant , the one who 

struck me in the head with a blackjack, remarked just outside my 
door to his chum and a man of his own stamp that Dr. Briggs was 
going to raise wages to $75 or $100 a month. He said it twice over, 
go I took it it was meant for my benefit. . . . 

Thursday, April 6th, 191 1. — A patient named Husler, one who 

is full of delusions, struck or kicked Attendant , and they 

put him in a room and Dr. came, injecting some fluid by 

hypodermic syringe method, weakening and causing deathly sick- 
ness. If patients strike one another, seldom is there anything done 
about it, but let a dope or anyone strike an attendant, and they 
take him, beat or inject the needle so often that he is often taken to 


the "so-called" hospital, and he may recover after being subjected to 
all kinds of torture, and oftentimes they have died — giving them 
cold plunges, leaving their windows open all night through freezing 
weather, sometimes no bed and sometimes no clothes to cover even 
their bodies. ... It is reported that patients who have been buried 
on the farm — their graves have been ploughed over and planted on. 

Wednesday, April 12th, 191 1. — John Kinney broke out 7 windows 
in the lower smoking room, and today, Thursday, April 13th, 191 1, 
they put him in the Northeast. He is five years over his time here. 
Friday or Saturday a patient cut John Boynton in the legs with a 
piece of pipe made into a knife. Stockleburg is the patient's name. 
Wednesday and Thursday Dr. Elliott had one half of each after- 
noon out in the front ward or office, asking difiFerent questions 
relative to my case. "How much was the jewelry worth taken from 
the Dow home, and do j'ou think it worth over $5 ?" I said I 
thought about that. "IVould you plead guilty in the second degree 
if the Court asked you to?" I said "It's for my lawyers to decide, 
not me." He said, "In case they bring in First Degree, you know 
what that means?" I said, "I get so downhearted at times, I wish 
it would turn out that way." "In case you get Second Degree, 
would you prefer to go to Charlestown or to come down here?" I 
said, "If you had a son, which place would you like him to go?" 
He said, "There is not much difference in places, only I advise you 
in either case not to pay attention to patients, as you will find your 
best friends among the officials. You got in wrong to start with so 
if you go to Charlestown, don't go there thinking you can reform 
the place, because they have rules and regulations which they have 
to compel the prisoners to live up to. I do not believe in muck- 
raking. There is no good coming from it on either side," said he; 
"If you are here two years from now, you will say, I am sure, that 
the officials are your best friends. How are things going on now 
down in the dining room? Do you eat well?" . . . 

When I remarked about the grave5'ard here for the poor un- 
fortunates, I did not know that they planted over their graves, and 
that all that marks their resting place is a small pine board with 
numbers on. . . . They say there is lots of mounds that ought to 
show, but have been ploughed up. There are a few mounds only 
marked by just plain pegs. No respect for the dead at all. The old 
tomb is now used as a cook-house. 

When Minnie comes Monday, I will send these notes by her, also 
a chain Jim Johnson made for Mr. Smith, with a letter written on 
tissue paper for him, too. 

The remainder of the diary is copied directly from 
Spencer's manuscript, with occasional omissions, italics 


representing his underscoring the occasional errors and 
the peculiar punctuation being his own. 

Tuesday, April 25th, 191 1. . . . There is not an hour day or 
night that passes but that I suffer unknown to human eyes, but God 
knows just how much and how sorry and bewildered to know how 
/ ever came to such an ending, also how all through my life it has 
been my aim to live an honest, clean life, and after I married my 
"darling Wife" I always thought how happy I could make my home 
by being ever truthfui, faithful and a loving husband, and thoroughly 
clean in my morals; yet I failed. Twice did I deceive my darling, 
and those two times were I unfaithful, but always truthful, loving 
and attentive, thank God, as any man could be. . . . 

It's a "big sacrilege" to call this place a Hospital — anything but 
that. If the Christian people think we are all Insane and void of 
principle, and our word is not to be taken, then in Humanity's name, 
why don't they spend some of the donated money and hire men to 
come into these places and find that the truest facts have not even 
yet been mentioned regarding Brutality and the medical farce and 
general run of this Insane Prison, "Not Hospital." Then the public 
could be informed from a sane man and not a patient. I have told 
only the God's truth, and truth can never be stretched regarding 
what has gone on here in the past. Even the dead can not lay in 
peace. They allow an attendant or farm boss to breed foxes that 
were brought into the walled enclosure on the farm, and they have 
burrowed down under the dead bodies, where they make their homes. 
They have ploughed up and planted all over the dead graves the 
past two (2 years) I have seen it all with my own eyes. . . . There 
are six foxes now on the farm. 

Monday, May ist, 191 1. In today's paper there's a picture sup- 
posed to be me, and a piece of lies that goes with all the other lies 
that have been printed about this place and myself, stating that I am 
"enjoying myself" — JVhat a lie,, never suffered more in my lifr than the 
past year, day and night, and I have asked these people to let me 
write a letter to each of the "poor Blackstone" and Dow families, tell- 
ing them of my sorrow and suffering, and that my last prayer will be 
for forgiveness from God and Them. There are many here who say 

it sounds just like 's way of getting back at me in a quiet, 

off-hand way, because I have tried, "oh," so hard, in a truthful and 
gentlemanly way to expose the low, contemptible actions of Drs. 

and and Attendants, also Supervisors and State 

Board, and this is the weapon they are using to get back at me and 
excite the people on the outside to frenzy heat. How well they al- 
ways guard themselves by speaking of this place as "PavilUon" and 
the back yard, when the wind blows, the fine sand dust sweeps across 


the yard to that extent you can not see at all. The drainage of this 
yard is down in the North end corner, and is fed by spit from 300 
men daily, all the overflow of two toilets summer and winter, and 
when this receptacle at the North end of the yard gets full, they 
take ofif the cover and spread the contents out over the yard where 
the sun and wind dried it out and the wind blows it all over the 
yard, up into the highest and most far rooms surrounding it, where 
we have to sleep in it and everything covered with this same yard 
dust. . . . 

Perhaps I can never prove, but God knows how much I have 
suffered, also those that have come to see me and have received letters 
from me. All the real comfort I have is in the reading of the dear 
letters of my dear Mother and Wife, and I often yearn for a letter 
every day when I seldom get but one a week from my dear Wife — ■ 
Mother generally writes 3 times a week, and she does not realize how 
much comfort they bring to me, neither does my Darling Wife. It 
seems as though every day would be my last, as I am so "lonely," and 
death is far better than being away from her love and affection. She 
alone knows how I love her, and will know it better as she grows 

Monday, May 9th, 191 1. In yesterday's Sunday Boston American 
there was another heartrending piece about me that was all false and 
exaggerated to the fullest. Does anyone believe, I wonder, that I do 
not suffer day and night for the sins I have committed? Don't I 
suffer for the hearts that have ached and those that will ache for years 
to comef Do I play my mandolin because I am happy? Far from 
it, it's because it not only soothes my aching heart, but it comforts 
other sorrowing hearts. I have been told time and again that my 
playing for others has done more good than the sermon preached 
here. If so, why should I be censured for trying to do what is right 
and bring cheer and comfort to those who are downtrodden, friend- 
less and sick? It's my duty, as a Christ believing man, to pray to 
God for forgiveness and peace of mind, and try to be cheerful among 
my fellow unfortunates, helping them in turn to be cheerful and to 
do right and be cheerful. And if the Christian people will not en- 
courage me, I will do it alone, knowing that in God's sight I am doing 
his teachings, even though I suffer by it in the end. People who have 
these false reports published about me are trying to do me an injury, 
and I pray to God to forgive them, for they know not what they say. 
Neither do I know their motive, but God does. 

Tuesday, May 9th, 191 1. Had an interview with Dr. Elliott, but 
got no satisfaction other than that he said he told Dr. Tuttle I played 
the guitar, and I said no, it's a mandolin, and that I played ball and 
worked on the farm, and he said not to think Dr. Tuttle put any such 
piece in the paper. I said then, for the respect of my people, I wished 
him to contradict those statements made in the Boston Post of Mon- 


day, May 2nd, 191 1, and the Sunday Boston American of May 7th, 
191 1. He said: "I will answer any questions your folks wish to ask 
and will deny anything that is wrong to them, but not the news- 
papers. Your folks can have published what I write if they wish, but 
I shall not," so that if the papers make a comeback he will not have 
to answer. . . . 

Wednesday night. May loth, 191 1. A patient who is crazy as a 
lime, by the name of Joseph Frenette, a Frenchman, was beat and 

choked by Attendants and , who is on my ward, 

upper North, Corridor 6. Two big lumps on the back of his head; 
Thursday morning he refused to go to bed the reason. Saturday 

night. May 6th, 191 1, when Mrs. got off the train in 

Boston, after spending the day here at Titicut with her husband, 

was accosted by an attendant, , who asked Mrs. 

if she would go to supper with him. She refused, scared almost to 
move. He then asked her if she would stay all night with him at 
some hotel, saying she was foolish to stick by her husband. When she 
came to see her husband Saturday, May 13th, 191 1, she told him the 
whole story, and they together wrote and signed their names, stating 
the facts to Dr. Elliott, asking him to do what was right in the mat- 
ter or they should. . . . Last Sunday a patient who is in for burglary 

wrote his mother a long letter, and Dr. would not send 

it, and told this patient that when he stopped "roasting" this place 

he or Dr. would send his letters, and not before. So 

his last Sunday letter did not go. Mr, and his wife have 

got Representative Quinn on their side and other influence, and per- 
haps your acquaintance with her will be a help and pleasure to you 
both. She is a woman who should be loved by all. She writes her 
husband every day, and comes to see him every Saturday, way from 
Salem, and arrives here every time at 8 A.M. . . , Alfred W. 
Gerard is the patient's name who tried to send his letter and the 

doctors stopped it. Last Friday, May 12th, 191 1, Dr. 

took the same tw^o patients up to his wife's home to mov the lawn 
and clean up around that he did once before. One was a fire-bug 
who has been in here 8 years. The attendant who took them up is 

the one who insulted Mrs. Saturday, May 6th, 191 1. . . . 

In yesterday's letter. Mother dear, you ask me if I showed Dr. Tuttle 
the scar on the back of my neck, . . . He asked about the Pitcher 
affair and about my always carrying a revolver and wanted me to 
explain about the gun bursting, and I told him that I was just com- 
ing to you when you got to me from the house, and I was up in the lot 
just above where the machinery building is now and that Pitcher's 
striking me in the stomach first caused me to pull my gun and fire 
how many times I don't remember. He asked me why I always 
carried a light, mask and revolver, and I told him I had gone out a 
number of times without even a jack-knife in my pocket. He says 


I suppose you took the light to see with and the mask to conceal your 
identity and the gun to scare whoever you came in contact with. I 
said I'm sure I don't know, yet it all seems feasible as I look at it 
now. He says "Would you like to go to trial?" I said "Sometimes 
I wish it all over." He says "Do you mean you feel like suicide?" 
I said "Yes, then it would all be over, and then I think of my mother, 
wife and child and I want to live." He said "Would you plead to 
2nd degree murder f I said "It's just as my lawyers say." He says 
"You know the meaning of First Degree?" I said "Death." Then he 
got up and excused himself for keeping me so long, and saying that 
Mr. Callahan had sent him here to interview me; saying goodbye 
and shaking my hand, he left for the front office where Dr. Elliott 
and he talked together. Dr. Elliott told me that Dr. Tuttle asked 
him if I played ball, etc., in the interview I had the other day. Dr. 
Baker hardly looks at me since he knows I was reported for trial, 
and I am just as well-pleased, for I never look at him but what I 

think what a is behind those smiles and honeyed words, 

and Dr. is the same, only he does not smile. I do not 

know Mr. Houldcroft's address, and I do not know whether he has 
gone west or where. This will be mailed Saturday night, May 20th, 

It will be noted that he emphasized most of his 
words when he was excited over personal matters. In 
describing the real or imaginary wrongs of others he 
is apparently more calm, and these peculiarities are 
less frequent, or absent altogether. His handwriting 
was invariably clear and legible, except when he was 
excited or emotional. 

H. J. McLean, who was an attendant at Bridgewater 
when Spencer was there, has written much about Spen- 
cer and events which took place in the institution at 
that time. His efforts to improve conditions while he 
was still employed as an attendant resulted in his 



Political Campaign 

The sending of Spencer to Bridgewater had created 
another furore in Springfield and vicinity, and whether 
or not he was insane, public opinion resented any influ- 
ences being brought to bear to keep him from being 
tried for his life. While it is wholly untrue that any 
such influence existed, the public was more or less in- 
censed, and took revenge on the District Attorney, Mr. 
Taft, who came up for re-election in 1910. The hottest 
contest that ever was waged in western Massachusetts 
for this office took place that year, both Mr. Taft and 
his Democratic opponent, Christopher T. Callahan, 
taking the stump, and the Spencer incident was used as 
an issue in the campaign. Mr. Callahan defeated Mr. 
Taft by a big majority, and soon laid plans for bringing 
Spencer to trial. Mr. Callahan says that the trial was 
not the result of a "political issue" between himself and 
Mr. Taft; that his candidacy for the Democratic nom- 
ination for the District Attorneyship had been an- 
nounced long before the September hearing. His 
actual nomination, however, did not take place until 



October 9th, and the following extracts from the 
Springfield Republican point to the conclusion that the 
Spencer case was a not unimportant issue in the cam- 

Evidently Mr. Taft, though he had acted in accord- 
ance with his conscience and with his idea of the duties 
of his office, nevertheless realized that he was under a 
heavy fire of public criticism, whether or not Mr. Cal- 
lahan had opened a direct attack upon his policy in the 
Spencer case; and he must have felt that his office, in 
spite of a large Republican majority in the district, was 
in jeopardy; for the Springfield Republican of Oct. 
27th, 1 9 10, says: 

District Attorney Stephen H. Taft, one of the speakers at a Re- 
publican rally last night in the Central Street Schoolhouse, strongly 
defended his action in the Spencer murder case, and made a forceful 
reply to the criticism of his failure to prevent Bertram G. Spencer, 
the self-confessed murderer of Miss Martha B. Blackstone, from 
being committed to the Bridgewater asylum for the criminal insane 
without demanding a formal trial. Mr. Taft declared that he was 
moved to allow Spencer's removal without a fight simply through 
the dictates of his own conscience, and that his ambition to be re- 
elected was not a factor in the case. Mr. Taft said he did not care 
whether he was reelected or not, if the price of reelection had to be 
the consciousness that he had done wrong. 

On October 28th, 1910, speaking of a Democratic 
rally in Pittsfield, this paper says: 

Christopher T. Callahan, candidate for District Attorney, was the 
second speaker. Mr. Callahan said that when he became candidate 
he hoped the contest for the District Attorneyship would be settled 
without a personal discussion between his opponent and himself of 
their respective qualifications for the place. Lawyers dislike to pro- 
nounce adverse judgment upon the professional work of their 
brethren, and he was reluctant now to say one word that might be 
construed as a reflection upon the legal ability of the District Attor- 
ney. That there might be no such misunderstanding, he would de- 
clare now that Mr. Taft was a very good lawyer with an excellent 
standing at the bar. 


But criticisms had been passed by a large number on his method of 
handling several important cases, not necessarily involving any ques- 
tion of his legal ability, but going rather to the soundness of the dis- 
cretion which attaches to the office of prosecutor. Among these cases 
was one which, on account of its horrifying character and the terror 
which the criminal had struck into the hearts of the people of the 
whole country, had caused more discussion than all the others. He 
was alluding to the case of the notorious burglar and murderer of 
the Springfield school teacher, Miss Blackstone, Spencer, who, he 
said, was now luxuriating in the comforts and leisure of the insane 
asylum at Bridgewater. For the reasons stated, he regretted that 
it had become necessary to discuss the matter. 

"But," said Mr. Callahan, "the District Attorney himself has taken 
the public platform to defend his action, and is making an explana- 
tion of it, which, if taken to be accurate by the voters, not only justi- 
fies his course, but invests the prosecutor with a nobility of motive 
and capacity for skill in dealing wath cold-blooded murderers which 
almost make me ashamed to dispute his claim to reelection. I do not 
agree that the District Attorney's action was for the good of the 
Commonwealth, and I can not appear to acquiesce in and endorse his 
explanation by further silence. Mr. Taft says he would rather go 
down in defeat than send an insane man to the electric chair. So 
would I, and so would every other lawyer with a spark of conscience 
in his soul. But that is not the issue. I do not understand that one 
voice has called for the execution of an insane man. The great 
complaint against Mr. Taft is that he did not meet the tactical 
motion of the murderer's lawyers for his commitment to an asylum 
with sufficient caution and energ>\ Everybody understands that 
Spencer's skillful counsel regarded it as the first great step to deliver 
him from the law's penaltj' to get him into an insane asylum by the 
order of the court, and thus forever after commit the Commonwealth 
to the theory that the man was insane. 

"At Springfield and Holyoke Monday night I shall discuss Mr. 
Taft's method of meeting this strategy of the defendant's counsel in 
detail. It is enough to say now that it was imprudent, to say the 
least, to put the Commonwealth's own experts on the stand to sup- 
port this request of Mr. Spencer that he be placed in an asylum for 
observation. It was more than imprudent that the District Attorney 
himself should elicit testimony from these experts that will make 
their testimony hereafter utterly valueless, if Spencer should finally 
be put upon trial. I say these things because it appears that these 
opinions were based, not upon observations of the prisoner solely, but 
upon observations taken in connection with the family history of 
the defendant and certain alleged facts in his career. How were 
these facts brought to the minds of the experts? As facts established 
by evidence from the witness stand? Not at all. They were fur- 


nished by the defendant's family and friends, and accepted by 
the experts without legal proof. These facts, in my opinion, should 
have been submitted under oath in open court, and should have 
been subjected to the test of careful cross-examination. Of course, if 
the Commonwealth could show that these facts should not be 
accepted as true, the experts very likely would not agree in the notion 
that the defendant was crazy." 

Mr. Callahan continued at some length in this vein, 
arguing the evil results that might spring from such 
procedure, citing other cases and stating that "a cha- 
grined and indignant public has raised its voice." The 
same issue of the Republican gives Mr. Taft's defense: 

Speaking of the cases of Spencer, Mrs. Berquist and George Creley, 
all of whom were committed for insanity, Mr. Taft said that the 
Court had to decide the question of the sanity of a prisoner, and 
if it is found that he is insane at the time of the trial he is acquitted 
on the ground of insanity and committed, while if found sane he 
must stand trial. Mr. Taft said he fully realized the state of the 
public mind at the time of Spencer's arrest. Then he told how 
Drs. Houston, Quinby and Tuttle either found Spencer insane or 
would not pronounce him sane. He said, too, that if Spencer had 
been put on trial, the jury would have acquitted him on the ground 
of insanity. Mr. Taft stated that if, at any time, Spencer should 
be found to be sane again, he could be brought back and put on 
trial, and that no one would be more pleased than he to send him 
to the chair; but he said that he desired to be possessed of a clear 
conscience, rather than put on trial a man whom three experts had 
found to be insane. He said he was being criticized for not having 
secured other experts to say Spencer was sane, "but," declared Mr. 
Taft, "I am not in office to hire or buy witnesses." He said he 
had had and still had ambition to be reelected District Attorney, 
"but," said he, "I say to you and I'll say to the world, I don't care 
how it affects my chances for reelection, if I know I did right." 

Mr. Taft made another speech that evening in 
Holyoke (October 28th), and at a third Repub- 
lican rally, held on the evening of October 31st, he con- 
tinued in the same vein, answering Callahan's criticism 
of his use of the Commonwealth's alienists as follows, 


according to the Springfield Republican of November 

"It has been said that the alienists testified not only from their 
examination, but from the history of the defendant, and that the 
District Attorney should have examined the witnesses who testified, 
or who might have testified, as to his history. My opponent has 
been kind enough to say that I am a good lawyer, but he belies 
his words when he suggests that I permitted this history to be used 
by the alienists without confirming its accuracy in every detail. A 
statement was submitted to the Attorney General, forwarded to me, 
which was seen by the alienists, and I verified or caused to be veri- 
fied all the facts stated thereon. I should certainly have failed in 
my duty had I permitted the experts to take into consideration the 
past history of the man, unless I had become certain that the facts 
stated were true. I personally interviewed men and women in Con- 
necticut who had known Spencer from childhood, and verified the 
facts stated in the histor\' of Spencer and his family, and a district 
police officer, at my direction, was several days employed confirming 
these facts. 

"Believing that the court, in passing on the motion that Spencer be 
committed for observation should have knowledge of all facts, and 
believing that it was my duty to disclose to the court all the facts 
within my knowledge, the alienists consulted by the Commonwealth 
were put upon the witness stand. The court found that it was 
necessary that he should be committed under the provisions of this 
act. I suspect that some of the persons who criticise my course 
did not appreciate just what would have been the outcome had any 
other course been taken. 

"As the case now stands, Spencer is confined at the prison for insane 
criminals at Bridgewater for observation. If he is pronounced to be 
sane, he can be brought here and tried. It is not a case where 
there is any question about the ability of the Commonwealth to prove 
the facts concerning the commission of the offense. That evidence is 
plenarj^, and if he is pronounced sane, no man will be more ready 
to try the case against him and convict him of murder in the first 
degree than I will. There seems to be a feeling that there is a 
possibility that he may in some way again be at large. But that is 
impossible. If he appears to be sane he can be placed upon trial, and 
if convicted, be executed in the electric chair. If he is acquitted 
by reason of insanity, by law he must be committed to the prison 
for insane criminals at Bridgewater for life, and can only be dis- 
charged therefrom by order of the Governor and Council; and no 
one suspects or imagines that Massachusetts will ever have a Governor 
who will permit the man who has committed all the horrible offenses 


that Spencer has committed to be free again. So that, whatever may 
happen, if Spencer does escape the electric chair, he will be confined 
as long as he shall live." 

After referring to the unjustifiableness of a District Attorney put- 
ting on trial for life a man who is insane or whom he believes to be 
insane, Mr. Taft said, "It might be that the alienists were mistaken 
in their opinion concerning the mental condition of the defendant, 
but the Medical Director of the prison for insane at Bridgewater, to 
which Spencer w-as committed by an order of the Court requiring 
a report to be made to the Chief Justice of the Superior Court 
monthly, in his report to the Chief Justice, said, 'At the present 
time it is my opinion that the degree of Spencer's mental deficiency 
and the obliquity of his moral nature is so great that it constitutes 
real insanity. Aside from this, there are symptoms that call for 
further observation.' 

"It is easy, my friends, to be criticised for that which has been 
done, especially by persons who are not familiar with all the facts 
and conditions of this particular case. I had every incentive to try 
this man, and to ask for a verdict which should send him to the 
electric chair. The horrible crime which he committed warranted 
it. My own wish to see the proper punishment administered, my 
knowledge of the intense feeling throughout the community, my 
desire for the commendation of the people in my conduct of the 
office, everything prompted me to try this case; but however bitter 
might be my feelings toward the defendant, I could not, under my 
oath of office, performing its duties as I understood them to be, con- 
ceal from the court the evidence in my possession, and no court could, 
by any possibility, have escaped making the order which was made, 
if the evidence was fairly presented to it." 

The same Issue of the Republican (November ist, 
1910) quotes Mr. Callahan as saying, at a Democratic 
rally held in Springfield on the previous evening, at 
which Governor Foss was the chief speaker, that he 
regretted that a public controversy over the profes- 
sional work of a brother lawyer had been injected into 
the campaign, but it was not his fault, he said; even in 
his speech accepting the nomination, he had deliberate- 
ly refrained from making any reference to the Spencer 
case or to the other cases which have aroused more or 
less feeling on account of the way in which the interests 


of the Commonwealth have been dealt with. But Mr. 
Taft had taken the public platform for the purpose of 
defending himself. Mr. Callahan said that, inasmuch 
as he disagreed with the District Attorney's contentions, 
it would be foolish to permit the latter to coin votes on 
a combination of his eloquence and Mr. Callahan's 
silence. He then continued at some length, repeating 
much of what he had said in former speeches, and say- 
ing, among other things: 

"In the fact of the overwhelming evidence of his guilt, there was 
but one way out. Nothing was more certain than that Spencer's 
defense would be insanity. It seems to me that in this awful case, 
Spencer ought not to be permitted to escape some penalty of the 
law, unless, under the finding of a jury, his insanity was established 
beyond a doubt." 

Mr. Callahan continued at great length on this 
theme. From the reported speech we select the follow- 
ing paragraphs: 

"I find, by reference to the reports of the hearings in the daily 
papers that the defendant's counsel were as familiar as the District 
Attorney with the doings and opinions of the Commonwealth's 
experts. I find that Mr. Stapleton used their testimony to his own 
great advantage. I am informed that every expert in the employ of 
the Commonwealth was called to the stand and committed to the 
theon- either that Spencer was insane or that there was such doubt 
as to his sanity as to make further observation necessary. ... I am 
here to say that it was very imprudent, to say the least, for the 
Commonwealth to put the defendant in possession of its evidence at 
that stage of the proceedings. Whatever might have been the duty 
of the Commonwealth at the trial itself, it is very questionable if 
proper considerations of the Commonwealth's interests can justify the 
proffer of the Commonwealth's evidence in a preliminary skirmish 
like this. Moreover, as I read the opinions of these experts, I find 
that they were based, not upon the observation of Spencer alone, 
but upon alleged facts furnished by himself, his friends and his 
family. Now it is common knowledge that before a fact can be 
considered in passing upon a question of the defendant's insanity, 


it must be testified to in open court and subjected to the test of 
direct and cross examinations. . . . 

"My friend admits that he did not oppose Mr. Spencer's request 
for commitment to the bucolic pleasures of Bridgewater, and argues 
with some fervor that, if he is pronounced sane by the authorities 
there, he can be put on trial and convicted. How, I would like to 
know? Upon the testimony of the Commonwealth's experts, who 
have already under oath committed themselves to the theory of 
insanity? It is possible, of course,, that they may hereafter be per- 
suaded to believe that Spencer is sane, but of what value, in the 
average jury, would their testimony be? As I understand the situa- 
tion, every expert in the employ of the Commonwealth has showed 
his hand. 

"No, my friend, the great complaint made by the people is not 
that you refuse to send a crazy man to death, but that you are not 
sufficiently cautious in dealing with a claim of insanity by a man 
whose sanity had never been questioned up to the time of the murder, 
for nearly a week after it, and up to the moment when his confession 
excluded any other possible defense. They complain that the Com- 
monwealth's case has been made practically valueless, and that because 
of this Spencer will escape the penalty of the law. They feel that 
if there is any reason why the extreme penalty of death should not 
be invoked, this man, instead of enjoying the comforts and attentions 
of an insane asylum, should at least have been sentenced to the toil 
and privation of imprisonment for the remainder of his natural life." 

Mr. Callahan referred, continues the Republican, to the im- 
portance of keeping the office of District Attorney out of politics, 
and, in closing, said: "If I am elected, I shall deal mercifully with 
the first offender and with the erring boy or girl, when mercy will 
not make a farce of justice, but I pledge myself to deal so vigorously 
with the murderer, the burglar, the fire-fiend, the man who invades 
another's home to destroy it, and with those who terrorize the 
community in other ways, as to make this district unattractive to 

In the same issue of the Republican, we read in the 
editorial column : 

Lawyer Christopher T. Callahan, the Democratic candidate for 
District Attorney, is disposed to bear down heavily on the Spencer 
case, that most deplorable affair that needs no rehearsal in Spring- 
field. The phenomenal meanness of the wretch who terrorized this 
community will not soon be forgotten, and popular indignation de- 


manded that he be sternly dealt with. Such was the feeling with 
which District Attorney Taft approached his public duty. It seems 
to be a fact that the lawyers, who should be the best judges of his 
course under the extraordinar>' circumstances that confronted him, 
are practically agreed that the District Attorney ought not to be 
condemned for the course he pursued. They endorse it. Here, for 
instance, is a letter from a leading lawyer in a neighboring county 
— and a Democrat at that, who writes: "I think the course of 
District Attorney Taft in the Spencer case was most proper. Forti- 
fied as it was with the views of the alienists and endorsed by two 
judges of the superior court, including the Chief Justice, it does 
not seem to me he is open to attack." 

But Mr. Callahan thought otherwise, and continued 
to attack him throughout the remainder of the cam- 
paign. The Springfield Republican of November 4th 
says that at a Democratic rally held at North Adams 
on November 3rd, Mr. Callahan referred to local cases 
as showing a lack of attention to duty on the part of 
District Attorney Taft. He again reviewed the Spencer 
case in detail and repeated at much length his attack 
on Mr. Taft's conduct of it. 

Many local election forecasts about this time predict 
Taft's defeat, even in the Republican strongholds, on 
account of dissatisfaction with his record in the Spencer 
case. Mr. Callahan knew his public and his eloquence 
triumphed. On November 9th, in its account of the 
election returns, the Republican says: 

Lawyer Christopher T. Callahan of Holyoke has defeated District 
Attorney Taft, with his own city going for him with a whoop. 
The reasons for that local favor were not far to seek. . . . The 
Spencer case played its part in Springfield and bejond, but it was 
by no means the sum of the opposition. . . . Who imagined that 
Mr. Taft could have been defeated by a plurality of 2662 ? 

In the same issue, speaking of the local vote, the Re- 
publican says: 


District Attorney Stephen S. Taft, defeated in the Western Massa- 
chusetts district for reelection, managed to run ahead of his opponent, 
Christopher T. Callahan, in this city, by 345 votes. 

Thus we see that, though Mr. Taft was defeated in 
a strongly Republican district, with the Spencer case as 
one of the leading issues against him, in Springfield, the 
city most concerned in this case and in which Spencer 
was best known, Taft had a fair majority. Apparently 
the people of Springfield were not dissatisfied with 
Taft's manner of handling the case. 

Reports of Bridgewater Authorities 

We have already quoted Dr. Elliott's first report to 
Chief Justice Aiken, made after Spencer had been a 
month at Bridgewater. The second report was dated 
November i6th, 1910, and, omitting the printed head- 
ing, reads as follows :* 

To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: — 

In compliance with the order of the Honorable Court, I 
hereby make my second monthly report upon the mental condition 
of Bertram G. Spencer. 

During the greater part of the past month Spencer has refused 
to talk with the Medical Director or his assistants, and any attempt 
to draw him into conversation was met by an outburst of profanity. 
His reason for so doing appears to lie in a general dissatisfaction with 
his environments, and his inability to accommodate himself to the 
necessary rules and regulations of an insane hospital. 

From his letters and his conversations with officers and other in- 
mates, and from his general attitude towards the institution and 
the officials in charge, it is evident that Spencer is suffering from 
general ideas of persecution. The underlying cause of these false 

•The italics are my own in these reports and elsewhere in the book, 
except where otherwise stated. 


ideas or delusions appears to be the faulty reasoning and impaired 
judgment of an arrested or mal-developed brain. 

Spencer's life is daily dominated by irresistible impulses, and his 
will-poiver is too weak to control them and his reasoni?ig is so faulty 
that he seldom arrives at correct conclusions. The exalted ego, so 
characteristic of the imbecile, is very proniinent in the patient's men- 
tal make-up, and while in many ways he appears to be rational, his 
utter disregard for truth,* his lack of moral feeling, decency or re- 
morse, together wiih general ideas of persecution and his inability to 
accommodate himself to his environments, especially when it is mani- 
festly in his favor to do so, are strong arguments, to my mind, that 
Spencer is insane. 

Very truly yours, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

The third report is dated December 17th, 1910: 

To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: — 

I hereby make my third monthly report upon the mental condition 
of Bertram G. Spencer, committed to this hospital until further 
order of the Court. Spencer has been much more agreeable and 
reasonable during the past month. He has taken practically a nor- 
mal interest in life and his environments and has joined in the 
different games and amusements of the hospital. He has not shown 
any new evidence pointing to delusions, and I can not see that 
there has been any signs of increasing dementia. / do not think there 
is any chance to dispute the fact that Spencer is and always has been 
a moral imbecile of a rather low order. It is still my opinion, how- 
ever, that he knows right from wrong, at least in the abstract, but 
while knowing the right, his mental defect is so great that he is un- 
able to do the right or avoid the ivrong. 

There is such mental impoverishment in his case, as in most bor- 
derline cases, that it is not strange that reasoning and judgments are 
at times so faulty as to constitute lueak, incoherent delusions. His 
peculiar mental soil also favors the development of various psychoses 
and the gradual growth of any latent disease, together with the 
many weak delusions that are so often a transitory feature in patients 
with unstable nervous S5'stems. 

Very respectfully, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 


The reports continued to be sent in to the Chief Jus- 
tice monthly as follows : 

Jan. i6th, 191 1. 
To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

In compliance with the order of the Honorable Court, I hereby 
make my monthly report upon the condition of Bertram G. Spencer. 

There has been no material change in the mental condition of our 
patient since the report of Dec. 17th last. Spencer has made con- 
siderable gain in weight, is somewhat more contented and a little less 
fault-finding. He is much less emotional. His inability to concen- 
trate his mind upon any line of thought or work is still marked, but 
evidently this is of long standing and dates back to his school days. 
His memory remains fragmentary and uncertain and his mind acts 
slowly and within narrow limits. His inability to reason clearly and 
to analyze events of everyday life leads to errors of judgment and 
false conclusions. There has been no evidence of homicidal or 
suicidal tendencies since received, and no hallucinations or delusions 
noted, except as facts improperly interpreted, the result of faulty 
reasoning, might be considered as such. 

I am still of the opinion that Spencer is a moral imbecile with 
strong and uncontrollable criminal tendencies and perverted moral 
instincts, together with some minor symptoms which go with unstable 
mental make-up under the stress of confinement and the influence 
of asylum life. 

Most respectfully yours, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

Feb. 17th, 191 1. 
To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

In accordance with the decree of the Honorable Court, I hereby 
make my monthly report on the condition of Bertram G. Spencer. 

In this report I am unable to add anything of value to my former 
reports. Spencer has improved physically, is less emotional and some- 
what better contented. Prolonged observation, however, but 
strengthens our opinion that Spencer is deficient in moral understand- 
ing, as the result of mental defect of long standing. I have not ob- 


served any well-defined sj'mptoms pointing to any acute mental 
psychosis or rapidly dementing process. 

Most respectfully, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

March 17th, 191 1. 
To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

The Medical Director being away on leave of absence, I hereby 
make the monthly report on the condition of Bertram G. Spencer. 

During the past month patient has been quiet and has not at 
any time acted like a person dominated by active delusions or hallu- 
cinations. While in conversation with the Assistant Physician he 
is rather surly and fault-finding, but when talking with the patients 
he is just the reverse. When out of doors he takes active interest in 
the various sports and the remainder of the time spends in drawing 
and painting. I cannot see any change, either mentally or physically, 
since the last report. 

Very respectfully, 

L. A. Baker, 
Acting Medical Director. 

April 17th, 191 1. 
To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

I hereby make my monthly report as to the condition of Bertram 
G. Spencer, who was committed to this hospital for the purpose of 
determining his mental condition. 

There has been no important change in this man's physical or 
mental condition since my last report to the Honorable Court. His 
daily life, conversation, actions and correspondence all point to a 
mental defect, but recently I have not observed anything that would 
lead me to believe he is suffering from any acute mental aberration, 
and I am of the opinion that his mental condition is of long duration, 
dating from early life or congenital in nature. 
Very respectfully, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

The May report, which follows, is similar, continu- 
ing to affirm that there has been no change in Dr. El- 


liott's opinion, though he expresses it more briefly than 
at first: 

May 17th, 191 1. 
To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

In compliance with the order of the Honorable Court, I hereby 
make my monthly report on the mental condition of Bertram G. 

I am unable at this time to add anything of importance to my 
former reports. Spencer takes what may be considered for him a 
normal interest in life. He plays ball and other games, sings, talks 
and laughs in a natural way and is not abnormally depressed or ex- 
cited. There has been no mental deterioration noted since coming 
here and no evidence of delusions or hallucinations which modify 
his actions. His everyday life shows that there is and probably always 
has been a deficiency of moral understanding which manifests itself 
in criminal acts. 

Very respectfully, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

To the Honorable Chief Justice of the June 19th, 191 1. 

Superior Court of Hampden, 
Springfield, Mass. 

Dear Sir: 

I am unable at this time to add anything new to my former 
reports on this case. Mr. Spencer is in splendid physical condition, 
eats and sleeps well, does some little work in our garden, and enters 
with zest into the usual amusements and sports of the Hospital. He 
has not at any time manifested delusions or hallucinations, and under 
the ordinary precaution and restraint of hospital life, has not shown 
suicidal or homicidal tendencies. During the nine months he has 
been under observation, I have not been able to find evidence that his 
crime was the result of an acute mental aberration, but it is still my 
opinion that there exists in this man a defective mental state which 
dates from birth or early childhood and manifests itself in weakness 
of the moral rather than the intellectual sphere and is associated 
with strong criminal tendencies. 

Very respectfully, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director.* 

♦This report of June 19th proved at the trial to have been one of the 
most significant. Copies of all the other reports were furnished me, but by 


This, to my mind, is rather a strong expression of Dr. 
Elliott's opinion that Spencer was not mentally respon- 
sible for his act, but if we examine the latter part of this 
report, we notice a departure from his usual form of 
phraseology. He does not say that Spencer had no men- 
tal aberration when he committed his crime, but that 
the crime "was not the result of an acute mental aber- 
ration." Although he still says that there exists in 
Spencer "a defective mental state," he no longer classi- 
fies him as **a moral imbecile." 

Under date of June 30th, Dr. Elliott sent the follow- 
ing letter to his Superintendent and Trustees: 

To the Superintendent and Trustees 

of the State Farm. 
Dear Sirs: — 

After sufficient observation to enable me to determine concerning 

the sanity of Bertram G. Spencer, I have to report that in my 

opinion he is sane and never has been legally insane, and therefore 

advise that he be removed from the Bridgewater State Hospital. 

Yours respectfully, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

The Trustees accordingly reported to the Court as 

State Farm, Mass., June 30th, 191 1. 
To the Honorable Chief Justice of the 
Superior Court, 

Springfield, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

In accordance with the law, the Superintendent and Trustees of 
the Bridgewater State Hospital have voted that in their opinion 

some strange oversight this one was not included among them, and I was for 
a long time at a loss how to procure a copy of it as these reports are not 
included among the other documents admitted at the trial in the official 
report of the case as published by the Commonwealth. I finally succeeded 
in getting a copy of the report of June 19th, through the courtesy of Dr. 
John H. Carlisle, the present Medical Pirector of the Bridgewater State 


Bertram G. Spencer is sane and should be removed from the insane 


Very respectfully, 

John B. Tivnan, Chairman, 
Payson W. Lyman, Sec. 
Hollis M. Blackstone, Supt. 

Dr. Elliott's last report to Chief Justice Aiken 
follows : 

July 17th, 191 1. 
Dear Sir: — 

I hereby make my monthly report on the mental condition of 
Bertram G. Spencer. 

After observing this man for ten months I have to report that in 
my opinion he is sane and has never been legally insane. The 
Superintendent and Trustees of this Hospital have also reported that 
in their opinion Spencer is sane and ought to be returned to the prison 
from which he was transferred. 

In our interviews with the man from time to time he has never 
shown evidence of delusions or hallucinations and has never intimated 
the existence of irresistible impulses to injure any one, except at 
such times as his actions were dominated by anger. In considering 
our record of this case, which includes his previous history as given 
by himself and members of his family, I do not find that at any time 
in his life was he in mental conflict with the desire to do wrong, 
as he saj'S that at no time did he feel anxious to lead a different life 
until he was arrested and confined in prison. We also note that 
he showed deliberation and planning in arranging for and carrying 
out his crimes. For instance, he used a black muffler instead of a 
mask, as the latter might be considered as evidence against him if 
found on his person. Says he never carried burglars' tools, and 
seldom used force to enter a building. He also wore his regular 
shoes, took them off before entering a house and replaced them after 
leaving. Such deliberate planning and execution, without remorse 
of conscience or a struggle to overcome his desire for crime leads 
me to believe that his crimes were not due to an irresistible impulse 
or obsession. Again, the variety of crimes he admits, to wit : robbery, 
murder, rape, shooting at a man, carrying concealed weapons, etc., do 
not, to my mind, point to mental obsession. 

In connection with the crime for which he is at present held, it is 
of importance to note that on a previous occasion patient fired several 
shots at a man because the man said something that angered Spencer. 

In considering the time he caused rape, or attempted rape, with 


robbery, we do not find that he showed remorse or a struggle against 
such deeds, as would be expected if he were under an obsession. 

It seems to me his crimes have been for gain, revenge or to satisfy 
his passion, or to protect himself when overtaken in criminal deeds, 
and were not the result of an irresistible impulse or obsession or 
the reaction of a delusion or hallucination, or the result of some 
acute mental aberration. 

Very respectfuly, 

Alfred Elliott, 
Medical Director. 

The analysis of Dr. Elliott's last report is interesting 
and it is inconceivable that certain discrepancies should 
not have made a stronger impression upon the jury 
when Spencer was brought to trial. The very arguments 
which Dr. Elliott had previously used as evidence of 
Spencer's irresponsibility are, in this last report, 
brought forward to prove that he was not "legally in- 

In this report July 17th Dr. Elliott says that Spen- 
cer "has never intimated the existence of irresistible im- 
pulses to injure anyone except at such times as his ac- 
tions were dominated by anger." Yet in his report of 
November i6th he had said, "Spencer's daily life is 
dominated by irresistible impulses and his will power 
is too weak to control them and his reasoning so faulty 
that he seldom arrives at correct conclusions." 

Again, he says in the last report, "Such deliberate 
planning and execution, without remorse of conscience 
or a struggle to overcome his desire for crime, leads me 
to believe that his crimes were not due to an irresistible 
impulse or obsession." But if Spencer were, as Dr. El- 
liott had repeatedly stated in writing and verbally, a 
"moral imbecile of a rather low order" with "uncon- 
trollable criminal tendencies and perverted moral in- 
stincts," why should he have had "remorse of con- 


science" or have struggled to overcome his desire for 
crime? And as to "deliberate planning and execution," 
that would hardly be proof of sanity in a man suffering 
from "false ideas or delusions," whose reasoning was 
"so faulty that he seldom arrived at correct conclu- 
sions," who had "general ideas of persecution," whose 
"inability to reason clearly and to analyse events of 
everyday life leads to errors of judgment and false con- 
clusions," who had always had a "deficiency of moral 
understanding which manifests itself in criminal acts." 

In the report of November i6th Dr. Elliott says: 
"His utter disregard for truth, his lack of moral feeling, 
decency or remorse, together with general ideas of per- 
secution and his inability to accommodate himself to his 
environments, especially when it is manifestly in his 
favor to do so, are strong arguments, to my mind, that 
Spencer is insane." And in the last report this same 
lack of moral feeling, decency or remorse is used as an 
argument for his sanity — at least they convey the im- 
pression to the lay mind that Dr. Elliott so considers 
them. Dr. Elliott says: "The variety of crimes he ad- 
mits ... do not to my mind point to mental obsession," 
but he does not say that they do not point to mental dis- 
ease or mental defect of some sort. 

However, we make no plea for Dr. Elliott's conclu- 
sions at one time or the other, but merely quote from his 
reports to show their inconsistency, in spite of the fact 
that Dr. Elliott month after month repeats that there 
has been no change and that there has been nothing of 
value to add to his former reports, and that "prolonged 
observation strengthens our opinion that Spencer is de- 
ficient in moral understanding as a result of mental de- 
fect of long standing." In his reports of June 19th and 


July 17th he denies none of the statements made in his 
previous reports, and yet he claims that a man is not 
"legally insane," though he is "a moral imbecile of 
rather a low order" with "strong and uncontrollable 
criminal tendencies"; that "while knowing the right 
his mental defect is so great that he is unable to do the 
right or avoid the wrong," and whose "reasoning and 
judgments are, at times, so faulty as to constitute weak, 
incoherent delusions." 

Before any official order appeared for the return of 
Spencer to Springfield for trial, rumors that such action 
was being contemplated reached the ears of the inmates 
of the Bridgewater State Hospital. These rumors were 
some months in advance of the change in the reports 
from Bridgewater, and were probably based upon the 
fact that Mr. Callahan had been elected partly on the 
issue of the Spencer case; and though he may not have 
actually promised to bring Spencer to trial if elected, 
there is no doubt that he was elected with the expecta- 
tion that he would do so. The regular term of the 
Superior Court in Hampden County is in May, and 
the May term for the year 191 1 was the first term after 
the election of Mr. Callahan as District Attorney. Evi- 
dently Spencer's lawyers expected him to bring the case 
up at that time, for Mr. Stapleton wrote me on March 
23rd that he had been appointed counsel for Spencer 
and that the case would be placed on trial some time in 
May. Dr. Elliott's reports by this time had become 
more stereotyped, which may have led Spencer's coun- 
sel to believe that he was changing his opinion in regard 
to the prisoner's sanity. At any rate, at some time in 
the spring of 191 1 District Attorney Callahan requested 


Attorney General Swift to assist him and appear with 
him in connection with the bringing to trial of Spencer, 
particularly with reference to the medical experts. 
After looking into the matter, the Attorney General 
called in conference with himself and Mr. Callahan 
the four experts, Drs. Elliott, Tuttle, Quinby and Full- 
er, shortly after June 19th, on which date Dr. Elliott 
had sent in his June report to the Court. At this con- 
ference the Attorney General brought out the signifi- 
cance of the legal definition of insanity, as applied by 
the courts in such cases, and on the basis of this defini- 
tion the physicians agreed in their opinion that Spencer 
was not legally insane, as they later testified at the trial. 
That Dr. Elliott, after his years of experience with 
criminal insane cases, should have needed such instruc- 
tion is strange. In his testimony at the trial he admits 
that it was the explanation of "what the law meant by 
legally insane — the definition of knowledge between 
right and wrong and uncontrollable impulse" — which 
caused him to declare Spencer sane, and that he had this 
definition in mind when he used the term "legally in- 
sane." He said that Spencer "knew the difference be- 
tween right and wrong at the time the act was commit- 
ted" and that "he was not controlled by an irresistible 
impulse." Dr. Elliott must have had the legal interpre- 
tation of these terms put before him on many previous 
occasions. He never gave any really satisfactory ex- 
planation of why he changed his mind in regard to 
Spencer, though he admitted on the stand that he had 
been annoyed by the letters Spencer had sent out from 
the hospital. If the accusations made in these letters 
were delusions, they should not have annoyed the Sup- 


erintendent, who must have been accustomed to such 
symptoms among his patients; but if Spencer was sane, 
they were not delusions. If Spencer was sane and lying, 
why was no attempt made to disprove his statements? 
Dr. Elliott also admitted at the trial that arguments in 
his July report relating to the details of the crime — the 
use of a black muffler instead of a mask, etc., were used 
after he had a talk with an officer who visited Bridge- 
water from Hampden County. No amount of question- 
ing changed the stand that he took that he could not re- 
call the name of the officer or the date he visited the 
institution, but he did admit it was prior to his June re- 
port. What value could be attached to the opinion of 
the Trustees or of the Superintendent of the State Farm 
that Spencer was sane? I understood the Superintend- 
ent scarcely ever saw hi.m, and I question if there were 
not some of the Trustees who never saw him. Dr. El- 
liott admitted on the stand that their opinion was not 
entitled to any weight. At the time of the trial, when 
Dr. Ellio-tt was cross-examined regarding his sudden 
change of opinion he hung his head and did not reply 
to some questions; he became so agitated when the de- 
fendant's counsel was making it appear by his questions 
that Dr. Elliott had done a wrongful act in sending the 
man back for trial and that he knew he was insane, that 
he took a pointer which was near him, and after han- 
dling it excitedly for some time, broke it in his appar- 
ent embarrassment while testifying. 

In returning Spencer to the Court for trial the Com- 
monwealth was "treating the offense instead of the of- 
fender," as Dr. Guy Fernald said in one of his able 
articles on the treatment of defectives, in referring to 
the fact that neither psychiatrists nor institution heads 


are empowered to treat defectives as they should be 

Return of Spencer to Springfield from Bridgewater 

for Trial 

The application for the return of Spencer from 
Bridgewater must have been made directly to the Chief 
Justice by the District Attorney, for there are no docket 
entries in the case from September 17th, 1910, to July 
25th, 191 1, when the following order was sent to Sheriff 
Em'bury P. Clark: 

To the Sheriff of Hampden: 

You will forthwith cause Bertram G. Spencer, now under care and 
observation pending the determination of his insanity, at the Bridge- 
water State Hospital, to be removed therefrom to the jail at Spring- 
field, there to be held in custody in accordance with the process by 
which he was originally committed to the jail, and this shall be your 
authority therefor. 

John A. Aiken, 
Justice of the Superior Court. 

On Tuesday, August ist, 191 1, Deputy Sheriff Stud- 
ley arrived at Bridgewater at 9 A. M. with Chief Jus- 
tice Aiken's order. Spencer was handcuffed and they 
left on the 10:15 A.M. train from Bridgewater, arriv- 
ing at Springfield at 2:19 P.M. Deputy Studley is 
quoted as saying that Spencer had not been informed 
that he was to be brought back until he, the Deputy, 
arrived; that on the journey Spencer spoke very little, 
but that what he did say was on the general line of what 
he had said before. The attendants at the jail noticed 
that Spencer wore the same dark suit of clothes which 
he had worn when he was taken to Bridgewater. Ac- 
cording to the report of the Springfield Republican of 
the following day, he had very little to say to the jail 


attendants on his return, and -he appeared about the 
same as when he went away. In commenting on Spen- 
cer's return, the Republican said: 

In the public mind the fact that Spencer was allowed to go to the 
Hospital without a trial, either rightly or wrongly, was a very 
effective political argument against Mr. Taft. 

As we have said before, to those who had to do with 
Spencer or were near him after his return to Spring- 
field Jail, there seemed to be little change from his con- 
dition when he was sent from the jail to Bridgewater. 
John Joseph Landers, who was serving a term for va- 
grarijcy, at the Hampden County Jail from June to Sep- 
tember, 191 1, was set to watch Spencer for about a 
month after his return. He described one occasion 
upon which Spencer "acted quite wild." According to 
Landers, Spencer had previously been complaining of 
a headache; one of his fellow prisoners on the same 
corridor had attempted suicide by hanging, caus- 
ing some commotion which had excited Spencer. 
Landers had assisted in taking the man down, and 011 
his return he said he found Spencer in a state of great 
excitement. "He threw his hands down and said they 
were killing the man — that they were 'kneeing' him. 
He cried, 'Let me out — I'll take him off!' He run back 
and forth in his cell, picked up his spittoon and broke 
it, broke the stool that he sat on himself, threw the cups 
around, and the salt and pepper box, and he threw his 
bedclothes and his own clothes all around. He didn't 
pay no attention to me. He run from the front of his 
cell to the back of it, put out his hands and grasped the 
air, and kept looking at the floor." Spencer remained 
in this condition for about fifteen minutes, then went 


and lay on the bed and started crying. He cried all the 
rest of the day, at least until Landers went off duty at 
two o'clock. Before this episode, Spencer had been 
seated quietly at his table drawing. 

Another prisoner, William McCart, who was serving 
a senten-ce for drunkenness at the Springfield Jail, was 
put to watch Spencer at night for about a month, from 
September 28th to Octo'ber 24th, 191 1. He said Spencer 
had a great deal of headache, and used to put cloths wet 
with cold w^ater on his head ; he h-ad often seen him sit 
on the side of the bed and clasp his head with both 
hands. "He used to look up — like that [illustrating] — 
and he would call* out as loud as ever he could call, 
'Keep quiet up there !' He asked me if I heard anybody 
talking a'bout him, and I said no, I didn't. So he said 
he had heard talking, and they were talking about him. 
He used to laugh sometimes, .but he mostly sat across 
the bed wit'h his ba!ck up against the wall, and I heard 
him sobbing sometilnes — 'H-a-a, H-a-a, H-a-a!' He 
used to have a gurgling in his throat like — as if some- 
thing was in the throat, and he made a strange sound." 
McCart said that whenever the bar was thrown to open 
or close the door, it made a noise, and Spencer would 
jump up and look around "with -a wild look." "He 
would- shut his fist and . . . look as if he wanted to 
find out what the noise was." Spencer took a dislike to 
another attendant named Moody, and McCart said he 
would "go into a mad fit" whenever Moody passed. 
"He sometimes would throw himself around, on the bed 
you know, bumping his head against the wall. He told 
Moody one time he hated the look of him. I never 
seen Moody do anything to him. The only thing I ever 
see, he used to go forward and look through the bars 


and he didn't like that — he didn't like anybody to do 
that — but he hated Moody for doing it more so." Mc- 
Cart said Spencer made sounds in his sleep as if he were 
talking to someone, but McCart could not make out 
what he was saying. 



On March 23rd, 191 1, I received a letter from R. P. 
Stapleton, Esq., Counsellor at Law, Holyoke, Mass., in 
which he told me of having been appointed by the court 
Senior Counsel for Spencer. He said that he had been 
informed that I had made an examination of Spencer 
while he was confined in Bridgewater, and that he de- 
sired my opinion. This letter resulted in an interview, 
in which Mr. Stapleton asked me to appear for the de- 
fense. Later I got the following letter from the District 

Office of 



August 16, 191 1. 
Dr. L. Vernon Briggs, 
208 Beacon St., 
Boston, Mass. 
My dear Sir: 

Dr. Alfred Elliott, Medical Director of the Bridgewater State 
Hospital, informs me that you were among those who have visited 
Bertram G. Spencer, who was confined there for observation as to his 



sanity, and who has been removed to the Springfield Jail for trial, 
probably in November, upon the ground that he is not and never 
has been legally insane. Will you kindly inform me whether you 
made your visit in behalf of the defendant, and what your opinion 
is as to his mental condition ? 

Very truly yours, 
(Signed) Christopher T. Callahan, 

District Attorney. 

In reply I wrote: 

My dear Sir: 

Your letter of August i6th is at hand and read today on my 
return from New Hampshire. May I ask if you wish my opinion as 
an expert? 

I never received any answer to this letter. 

On October 30th, 191 1, Chief Justice Aiken author- 
ized my employment as an expert in the Spencer case, 
at the request of Mr. Stapleton. 

On August 23rd, Mr. Stapleton wrote me: 

You have undoubtedly learned that Bertram G. Spencer, who 
was confined at Bridgewater, has been returned to the jail at Spring- 
field, Mass. After Dr. Elliott and his assistant. Dr. Baker, had 
repeatedly for eight months, in written reports over their signatures, 

declared Spencer insane, through some they suddenly took 

the other tack, in June of this year. The sequence of events is 
certainly significant. 

On Monday morning, November 13th, 191 1, Spencer 
was placed on trial. From the beginning, there was 
apparent a feeling of vindictiveness against the prisoner 
by many in the court room — a marked exception were 
the presiding judge and those who appeared for the de- 
fense. So lightly did some of those interested take the 
seriousness of the situation that facetious remarks and 
laughter were heard from time to time. It seems counsel 
for the defense thought the attitude of the Attorney 
General prejudicial to the rights of the defendant and 


remonstrated in open court against remarks made by 
the Attorney General and the District Attorney. 

Motion to quash the indictment was overruled by 
Judge Crosby. Assistant Attorney General Greenhalge 
was brought into the case to assist Attorney General 

On the second day of the trial, November 14th, Dis- 
trict Attorney Callahan opened on behalf of the Com- 
monwealth. He rehearsed details of the murder and 
the testimony he intended to bring out to establish them. 
In closing his opening address, he said: 

It is well to understand that in our Commonwealth simple in- 
sanity, a word which can be and is stretched to cover a multitude 
of mental imperfections, does not excuse a criminal. It is not suffi- 
cient for the defense to show that he is a moral pervert, or that he is 
mentally defective. There are few of us who are wholly free 
from these imperfections. It is not enough that the alienists may 
pronounce him insane. The evidence must go farther and show that 
he was so far insane that, at the time he committed the crime, he 
did not know the difference between right and wrong, or that, if 
he did know the difference, he had no control over his will, and did 
the criminal act under an irresistible impulse. If you are satisfied 
that he did know the difference between right and wrong and was 
not governed in his actions by an irresistible impulse, then you must 
find that he was not legally insane. 

During the reading of the District Attorney's open- 
ing Spencer showed a good deal of emotion, and when 
the clerk read the indictment he wept convulsively. The 
following correct description of the defendant's appear- 
ance at the opening of the court on the 14th was given 
by the Boston American, which says : 

Spencer is a study. He sits well back in the steel cage and seems 
oblivious to the brass-buttoned jail turnkey, Nat P. Wade, seated 
in the cage by his side. His head is tilted back slightly and a pair of 
large eyes, almost round, stare fixedly and vacantly ahead. His re- 
ceding forehead is furrowed with wrinkle?, wrinkles that tremble 


and quiver. His ears are set back deep in his head ; his large eyes 
open and shut continuously; he trembles from head to toe; the 
furrows in his forehead keep up a continuous twitching; his hands, 
atremble, drum his chair at times, and then his knees and his feet, 
with legs generally crossed, shake as with palsy. His face is ashen. 
Seated in front of the cage and a little to one side were the most 
noted alienists in the state, headed by Dr. L. Vernon Briggs, of 
Boston. Dr. Briggs is supported in his view of Spencer's condition 
by Drs. J. W. Courtney and E. B. Lane of Boston, and Dr. J. A. 
Houston of Northampton State Hospital. Alienists for the state, 
headed by Dr. H. M. Quinby of Worcester, include Dr. George H. 
Tuttle of McLean and Dr. Daniel T. Fuller of Boston. Just 
outside his cage sat Spencer's mother and wife. The paper goes on 
to state that after the District Attorney began reading Spencer 
twisted and turned in his seat . . . grabbed the railing of the cage 
like an enraged animal, and called out at times. 

When the District Attorney was making his opening, 
Spencer broke in with "My God, no, no !" The District 
Attorney at one time when Spencer was sobbing aloud, 
directed his eyes at the counsel for defense and said in 
a loud tone so the jury could hear, "Is this not a little 
premature?" Later this remark was stricken from the 
records. When the Attorney General quoted Spencer 
as saying to Miss Dow before shooting her, "If you 
want to die, die!" Spencer broke down and called out 
"No, I never said that!" 

The details of the murder were established by various 
witnesses, including Mrs. Dow and both her daughters, 
the neighbors, the doctors who had been called in to 
attend the victims and the police who had traced Spen- 
cer; and on the third day, November 15th, the full 
confession of Spencer to Captain Boyle, made on April 
6th, 1910, was read by the stenographer who took the 
notes. Miss Bessie C. Niles. 

Later, when State Detective Bligh was testifying, 
Spencer's eyes were fixed on him, and finally, after one 
statement of Bligh's, Spencer leaped from his seat to 


the front of the cage, with a terrific yell that sounded 
like a shriek, and cried out, "Why don't you tell the 
truth!" Turnkey Wade and another court officer, who 
was five feet away, jumped on Spencer and bore him 
down, the prisoner continuing to shriek, "Why don't 
he tell the truth!" Reporters who were in the way of 
Spencer's plunge leaped aside and there was consider- 
able confusion. Spencer's cries filled the court room 
after he had been overpowered, and Judge Crosby di- 
rected a recess, which lasted 25 minutes. Spencer, 
whose strength seemed all spent, was supported as he 
was led from the room, and was still shivering and 
shaking when they brought him back. 

The New York World of November i6th gives a 
graphic description of this or another similar episode 
in court: 

Spencer leaped to his feet and tried to burst out of his cage. He 
shook at the little gate until it looked as if he would tear the whole 
railing from its fastenings; his hair was flying, his big eyes wild with 
fury, his mouth dripping. He threw out his arms, his fists were 
clenched, and he yelled at the top of his big, strong voice, "Damn 
you! For God's sake, why don't you tell the truth — the truth — the 
truth !" His custodian, a fat slow turnkey, finally managed to grab 
him and yank him, writhing and struggling, to his seat. Rapidly 
came the sharp thwackings of Judge Crosby's gavel. They seemed 
to be beating on the prisoner's raw nerves. At every crack of the 
gavel he convulsively started. There came a silence. "Well, well, 
well," whined the prisoner, "Well, why don't he tell the truth?" 

Significantly to those who think that Spencer is only acting, con- 
tinues the World, despite that he has continually kept up his sudden 
glaring of the eyes, his jerks and twists of the body, his spasmodic 
movements of the neck, his ceaseless, crazily rapid tetering of the 
upper foot of his crossed legs, stood the fact that this great outburst 
of emotionalism on his part came at the time when the State was 
about to close its case and the opening of the defense to begin with 
an argument by white-haired, impressive Col. Charles L. Young. 
While his lawyer was making his oi>ening plea, Spencer, who had 
staggered out at the recess, shaking his head, his hair in his eyes, his 
lips twisted and uttering a steady stream of groans, was no more 


quiescent than before. Twice, when a side door slammed, he leaped 
in the air; once, when his lawyer in great earnestness raised his voice 
to a high cry, the seemingly tortured man threw up his hands and 
cried, "Good God! Why does he yell that way?" When Mr. 
Young told of the time when Spencer had been tied to a tree, at the 
age of thirteen, and left "for wolves to devour," the prisoner 
cried tragically, "Ugh! the wolves, the wolves!" 

The World article continues: 

Finally and sweepingly, in his opening, Col. Young declared that 
there were well-defined and identified cases of insanity in both the 
maternal and paternal branches of the man's family, and concluding, 
he told the jury that Spencer did not ask to go free; he asked only 
to be judged by the prenatal facts in his life as the defense would 
produce them, and to be committed to an institution for the insane 
— "until such time," ended the lawyer, "as God, in His wisdom, 
shall call him to account from above." "Yes, that's right," moaned 
the "gentleman burglar," "that's right, that's right." 

When court adjourned he was still writhing and weeping hysteri- 
cally. He kissed two fingers that his wife thrust through a square 
of the cage. He tried to kiss his mother, through the slender bars, 
but their lips could not meet. He was led away, floundering in the 
legs, his head wagging, apparently in a complete state of prostration. 

The opening statement in behalf of the defendant 
was made at the end of the afternoon session on the 
third day of the trial by Col. Young. In it he said: 

We have but one defense and upon that our evidence will depend 
a mental defectiveness, mental incapacity, mental unsoundness, and 
as our brother said, that is a legal defense. . . . We will show you 
that this man is unable to distinguish right from wrong to the ex- 
tent that the law requires in order to constitute capacity to commit 
crime, that he is a victim of impulses and desires which he is unable 
to control, and they are wholly uncontrollable; so that he is unable 
by reason of mental incapacity and mental unsoundness to do the 
right and avoid the wrong. We will point out to you injuries of 
various kinds. . . . Now we are not going to contend that these 
are the causes of his mental incapacity, but we are going to contend 
that they are causes which have a tendency to cripple largely his men- 
tal effectiveness; we will show that prior to his birth he was sub- 
jected to influences prenatal, which marked and consigned him to 
criminal acts of various kinds which it is alleged that he committed. 


We will show you that he has the most violent outbreaks from the 
most trifling affairs even — not even so great as you noticed here a 
few moments ago, but from the most trifling causes an outbreak 
would come beyond his own control — that indicates, as will be told 
by those who know and have studied into these things, this man has 
the incapacity of mind and the unsoundness of mind which could 
not be normal under any circumstances, as you will see and as you 
will learn and know from the lips of those who have been with him 
by day and by night, by his side here and there, by laborers and fellow 
servants and by those who have carefully watched him for the pur- 
pose of trying to ascertain — and did ascertain. . . . Many of these 
outbreaks were characterized by the same symptoms he showed when 
he took the life of this young girl. We will show you that while 
in . . . Hartford, Connecticut, he made murderous assaults that 
showed his mental unsoundness. We will show you that he had these 
tendencies to commit these crimes, that came from a suggestion which 
he received about the year 1903. We will show you that when at 
school there was that incapacity to learn or study or to retain that 
which was taught him, failing in his studies as a boy, fearful out- 
breaks here and there at school, with the teachers and the scholars 
— all of this will be given to you by those who have had some inter- 
est in him and sympathized with him at the time. We will show 30U 
that ... he had delusions that some one was talking — voices here 
and there and everywhere, around and about him — not knowing 
where they came from — yet no one spoke anywhere. 

Col. Young continued to outline the plea of the ex- 
perts, and then reviewed in detail the family history 
of the prisoner, and the significant events of his child- 
hood, but he neglected to bring out in his address the 
peculiar features of Spencer's crimes in Springfield and 
elsewhere which had made the newspapers and the 
people at large decide, even before the criminal was 
discovered and his history known, that these crimes 
could have been committed by no one in his right mind. 
In reviewing the trial at this late date, it would almost 
seem that a great opportunity was lost by the defense 
in not dwelling more particularly upon these often 
motiveless, haphazard crimes, and especially in not 
bringing out more clearly the weakness of any motive 


for appearing in the midst of the group of women on 
the night he shot Miss Blackstone as against the risk 
incurred. This and a dozen similar events prove con- 
clusively the lack of any design in Spencer's crimes, 
other than that of temporary relief from a compelling 

Attorney General Swift interrupted Attorney Young 
several times while he was delivering his address to the 
jury, but Mr. Young appeared to have the better in the 
tilts, and succeeded in placing before the jury all that 
he had set out to present to them. District Attorney 
Callahan changed his attitude as Mr. Young proceeded 
with his speech from one of cold and almost contemp- 
tuous indifiference to one of extreme earnestness and 
interest. Up to the time that Attorney Young began to 
speak, the attack upon Spencer had been powerful and 

The first witness for the defense was called on the 
morning of the fourth day of the trial, Thursday, No- 
vember 1 6th, Mrs. Kate E. Spencer, mother of the 
prisoner. She testified at length as to the family history 
and the events of her son's early life, which we have 
quoted elsewhere, and as to Bertram's more recent 
peculiarities of behavior. During Mrs. Spencer's testi- 
mony. Lawyer Stapleton, for the defense, administered 
a stinging rebuke to the Attorney General for smiling 
before the panel of jurors when Mrs. Spencer testified 
as to certain acts of her husband. Mr. Stapleton, in 
language in every way courteous, said: "I think the At- 
torney General might refrain from laughing at the 
testimony." Mr. Swift replied that he could not help 
it, to which Mr. Stapleton answered, 'Tf you want to 


laugh, you might at least wait until you argue the evi- 
dence. At present the testimony is entitled to respect" 
It is evident Mr. Stapleton appreciated the importance 
of the effect that such an action as smiling at the evi- 
dence of the defense by one holding the highest legal 
position in Massachusetts might have upon the jury. 

Mrs. Spencer was a very good witness and appeared 
to have an excellent memory, and her story alone was 
cumulative evidence, to us who have made a study of 
mental disease, that her son was far from being a nor- 
mal individual. No doubt could have been left in any 
one's mind, after hearing her testimony, of her son's dan- 
gerously bad heredity, of his peculiar, unstable dispo- 
sition, of the many abuses and the constant atmosphere 
of friction and misunderstanding to which he had been 
subjected as a child, to his moody disposition and fre- 
quent outbreaks of uncontrollable temper, to his habit 
of carrying a revolver and drawing it upon slight prov- 
ocation, and to the fact that he frequently heard 
"voices" when no one was speaking. Her testimony 
lasted into the afternoon session, and Mr. Callahan's 
grilling cross-examination failed to weaken any of her 
statements. One after another, other witnesses were 
called, who confirmed her statements in almost every 
detail, and added others of the same character. 

The second witness was Charles A. Gager, who testi- 
fied as to Spencer's having drawn a revolver during an 
argument with another man at a dance; Dr. Danielson 
followed, confirming the story of the attempt at suicide 
by taking laudanum. An effort was made by the de- 
fense to get Dr. Danielson's opinion as to Bertram's 
mental condition before the jury, but he was not per- 


mitted to testify on this subject as he could not qualify 
as an expert; and Mr. Callahan brought out that Dr. 
Danielson had signed Bertram's certificate of health 
for admission to the Mt. Hermon School, stating that 
he had no ''nervous" disease, such as chorea, epilepsy, 
etc. However, Mr. Stapleton brought out the state- 
ment that Dr. Danielson did not have in mind insanity 
or mental defect when he answered the printed ques- 
tion on the application blank with that statement. 

The neighbors, Mr. Bailey and Mr. Carpenter, fol- 
lowed with their accounts of Bertram's peculiarities 
and events in his childhood, Mr. Bailey testifying that 
"if you approached him or spoke to him on any subject 
quick he would give you a wild, indifferent look. If 
you agreed with him everything seemed to be right. 
If you didn't agree he seemed disturbed." Mr. Car- 
penter testified to the ditch digging episode related on 
page 85, and also that while Spencer was at table 
eating and no conversation was going on he would start 
up suddenly and say "Mother, did you speak to me?" 
and that he was very nervous and had attacks of sobbing 
and crying. 

Clark H. Standish, another neighbor, told of the 
episode of the digging of the ditch when Spencer went 
into hysterics and made an attack; also of an incident 
when he appeared in the night at Standish's barn bare- 
footed with only short blue overalls and a night shirt 
on when it was raining hard and very cold. He asked 
for a blanket so that he might sleep in the barn and 
Mr. Standish gave him some horse blankets. Mr. Stan- 
dish said there was an injury in the fleshy part of his 
right thumb which Bert told him had been caused by 
a shot from his father when he left the house. This 


shot Mr. Standish said he heard a little while before 
Spencer got to his barn. 

He was followed by three teachers from the Mt. 
Hermon School, who testified as to Bertram's back- 
wardness in his studies, his insubordination, bad lan- 
guage and violent temper. Bertram's uncle, William 
K. Spencer, next testified as to mental peculiarities in 
the family, and especially as to those of his own father, 
William L. Spencer, and of his grandfather, Ambrose 
Spencer. Mrs. Wattrous, of Portland, Conn., followed 
with her account of Bertram's strange outbreaks when 
he seemed to be blind with rage, but she could calm 
him down by coaxing and talking to him, and she also 
took a pistol away from him which she still has; and 
the first day of testimony for the defense was closed by 
that of Samuel N. Hyde who testified that Mr. Spen- 
cer's uncle David B. Date's mind was affected, that he 
was "off his base." 

On the fifth day of the trial, Friday, November 17th, 
Spencer's sister, Mrs. Cornelia H. Pulz, told of the 
episode in Springfield when Spencer had had an alter- 
cation with Mr. and Mrs. Krailing, his wife's grand- 
parents, as given on page 95. She also testified as 
to the wild and glassy look he had in his eyes at times 
when anyone crossed him and at those times he was 
never able to control himself; that if you pointed a 
finger at him with the idea of tickling him he would 
always run away and scream. 

Gardiner J. Oakes, a former employer of Bertram's, 
testified to spells that Spencer had when he would 
change color and clap his hands. He remembered at 
least half a dozen of them, they would be over in a 
minute. He complained of his head and was "melan- 


choly and gloomy" at times. The deposition of Henri- 
etta Post, Mrs. Spencer's old nurse, was then read, 
further confirming Mrs. Spencer's story of the child's 
early life, his punishment by his father, as told on page 
71, and his "queer, odd and strange" disposition. His 
father-in-law, Herman L. Amberg, next testified as to 
Spencer's behavior while courting his daughter and as 
to his exhibitions of violent temper while employed by 
the H. L. Handy Company. Among other things Mr. 
Amberg said "he was going to knock my head off." 
"He showed a very violent temper at times; with the 
least provocation he would fly off the handle and throw 
a hatchet at some of us, or anything he had in his 
hand; he locked himself up in the refrigerator, excited 
and trembling. I was almost frightened at his face, 
the way he looked, the peculiar look in his eyes. He 
changed from the action of a schoolboy in one minute 
to acting like a raving maniac." 

Four of Spencer's fellow clerks in the Hartford de- 
partment store testified as to his assault on the cash boy 
with a hammer because he had "evidently crossed his 
track" in some way, to his swearing about his father 
when he received a box of sweet peas from his mother, 
and other manifestations of dangerous temper. There 
next testified Mrs. Gladys May Wyman, a trained 
nurse who had known Spencer during his residence in 
Springfield and had boarded in the same house with 
him for about six years. We have already quoted from 
her testimony, on page 91, which was rather signifi- 
cant as she had had two years' experience in the care of 
the insane at the Northampton State Hospital. Her 
statements, as well as those of Mrs. Walters later in the 


day, established Spencer's mother's account of his ap- 
parently hearing "voices" on many occasions. Her 
husband, William L. Wyman, who had also been an 
attendant at the Northampton State Hospital, also tes- 
tified as to Spencer's hearing voices, and as to Spencer's 
peculiar behavior and eccentricity at his boarding- 
house and when employed by the street railway com- 
pany, as related on page 93. 

Mr. Nelson R. Hosley, whose house was one of those 
entered by Spencer, was then put upon the stand. He 
testified as to the theft of a small notebook of no value 
to anyone, among other things taken from his house; 
and Robert E. Miles gave his evidence as to Spencer's 
having drawn a revolver and threatened his life after 
a simple quarrel over a seat when they were both em- 
ployed on the Boston and Maine Railroad. Napoleon 
Bourque testified as to Spencer's unaccountable anger 
with him in a misunderstanding about a baseball glove. 
The last witness of the day was William McCart, a jail 
attendant, whose testimony has already been quoted on 
page 151. 

In reporting the events of this day of the trial, the 
Springfield Republican of the following morning, No- 
vember 1 8th, says: 

. . . Later in the day, it became necessary for Judge Crosby to 
admonish the spectators and all concerned for the first time since the 
trial opened. Willard L. Wyman of this city was on the stand, and 
had testified concerning the time when Spencer wanted him to sing 
and then chided him because he couldn't. He said that Spencer had 
told him that he "couldn't sing any better than a hog," or words to 
that effect. Under cross-examination, the District Attorney forced 
the witness to admit that this characterization of his vocal abilities 
was probably correct and warranted by the sample which Spencer 
heard. This brought considerable laughter, which rose above Sheriff 


Clark's Tappings for order. Judge Crosby then stated, so that every- 
one could hear, that he felt forced to remind all that the court room 
Avas not a place of amusement, and that the laughter was grievously 
out of place. 

The Springfield Union of Saturday morning, No- 
vember i8th, 191 1, in commenting on parts of the testi- 
mony given the previous day, says: 

Another incident that brought relief from the monotony of testi- 
mony regarding the mentality of the prisoner and his ancestors oc- 
curred during the cross-examination of Frank G. Bedworth of 
Hartford, who had testified in direct examination that Spencer 
"looked like a bull" when he was pursuing the cash boy through the 
department in which he worked in the Brown, Thompson and Co. 
Store in Hartford. Mr. Callahan attempted to qualify the witness 
as an expert on bulls, and learned that he had once nearly been the 
victim of a bull that stood on the shore of a pond where Mr. Bed- 
worth was fishing from a plank. Mr. Callahan then attempted to 
learn what the witness knew about bulldogs and afterwards tried 
him on his knowledge of angry cats. 

The sixth day of the trial, Saturday, November i8th, 
commenced with testimony from Dr. Hosea M. Quin- 
by, Superintendent of the Worcester State Hospital, 
who said that Helen Date Tiffany, a great-aunt of 
Spencer's, was admitted to his hospital November 14, 
1907, and died there April 22, 191 1, that she was 
insane and had false hearing, delusions of wealth and 
various other delusions. He was followed by a former 
neighbor of the Spencers in Lebanon, Joe Stedman, 
who testified that Bertram threw a one or two lb. 
weight at one of Mr. Spencer's clerks while in the store, 
that he would at times have a characteristic wild, glassy 
look, that when he was infuriated he was uncontroll- 
able; that he had seen him in this condition at least 
twenty times, this during his school days. The Spring- 
field Sunday Union of November 19th, after reporting 
the testimony of this man, Joe Stedman, says: 


When Mr. Callahan was grilling Stedman a hunted, desperate 
look came into the prisoner's eyes, and he struggled in the cage. 
Turnkey Wade grasped him by the arm and shoulder and Spencer's 
wife put her hand through the bars to hold his other hand. "Now 
he makes me so mad," Spencer mumbled when Mr. Callahan was 
questioning Stedman about the youth of the prisoner, when the wit- 
ness said he saw him playing in Lebanon. When his wife tried to 
hold his hand, he snatched it away from her and tried to put it 
against his face. "Let me alone!" he growled snappishly, and fell 
back, mumbling incoherently. 

There was next called to the stand Harry L. Watts, 
a brakeman, who described a quarrel with Spencer 
over the respective merits of two local newspapers, 
from which the latter had not recovered for over a 
year. Then the defendant's father, Wilbur L. L. Spen- 
cer, testified at length concerning his own abuse of Ber- 
tram when a boy, saying that "at a very tender age I 
remember I punished him and he slipped out of my 
hands and fell on the stove; that in trying to correct 
him in his prayers I punished him with a curtain stick 
at his bedside ;" that for "raking leaves in the back yard 
and setting them afire I tied his hands behind him and 
put his head on a chopping block and told him if he 
ever done it again I would sever his head from his 
body." That at about nine "I hit him on the head with 
a whip ; I was so excited I might have hit him on any 
part of his body." That he remembered taking Bert to 
a place in Lebanon called "Mack's Woods" about two 
miles from his house and he said: "I tied him to a tree 
and told him I would leave him there for the wild ani- 
mals to devour. I had business at a station, a grain 
station that was two miles beyond and I left him tied 
until I went there and returned. At another time we 
were riding out of the yard and he was at my side 
and put his hand in the hollow of my back. It seemed 


to me intentional. I cuffed him side of the head and he 
jumped from the wagon. I followed, went into the 
house, got a revolver, came out and fired in his direc- 
tion as he was running down through the pastures." 
The father also testified to other incidents w-hich are 
given more in detail on page 75. 

The Springfield Daily News of that evening, in 
speaking of W. L. L. Spencer's testimony, says: 

The witness indicated no emotion when telling about tying his 
son to a tree in Mack's Woods and leaving him there "for wild 
beasts to devour," while he went to the grist mill about two miles 
distant. . . . He was as calm in telling about the heartrending scenes 
of the punishments in the early life of the prisoner as one would be 
in describing the happenings at a church social. He told about plac- 
ing Bertram's head on the chopping block and threatening to cut it 
off, with as little apparent concern as one would have in placing 
the head of a chicken on the block for execution. 

The next -witness was John Joseph Landers, the pris- 
oner-attendant at the Hampden County Jail, who testi- 
fied as to Spencer's attacks of excitement in the jail 
when he broke his spittoon and threw cups, salts and 
peppers about, and other incidents given on page 150. 
The Court then adjourned until Monday, Novem-ber 

On the seventh day, November 20th, witnesses were 
called to testify to the many trivial and useless articles 
taken by Spencer in his burglaries. Dr. Ames told of 
his having taken one of a pair of lady's shoes. Spencer's 
mother was recalled to tell of a large bag she had found 
in Spencer's rooms and which she had turned over to 
the police, containing old badges and other valueless 
trinkets, which he had evidently collected with much 
care. More might have been said on this matter, for 
the list of articles stolen, as published by the police, 


consists largely of trinkets and bits of broken imitation 
jewelry in most cases of no value whatever, and in many 
others valued at as little as 25 cents. 

Dr. LaMotte, the Naval Surgeon, testified on this 
day. The Boston American of November 22nd said: 

While Dr. LaMotte was testifying Spencer hung his head and 
wept quietly. He jerked with nervous excitement. His wife reached 
in through the iron lattice of the cage and patted him gently. He 
quieted, then they chatted together. 

Spencer spent most of the time after his arrest in 
trying to catch flies in his cell in the Sprin»gfield Jail, 
according to the testimony of Eugene Farrell, the next 
witness, who had been his cell mate for eighteen* days. 
He was followed on the stand by Mrs. Lu'cy T. Lewis, 
of Oakland, California, who testified to Spencer's 
strange behavior in her home in Oakland, descri-bing 
him as at times greatly excited, very nervous and wild 
eyed, and Mrs. Anita M'artland's deposition was also 
read. In a letter written to Mrs. Martland, put in by 
Mr. Callahan, Spencer says: 

I have fought this double self, as no one knows, and through pride 
I have kept my wrong doings within myself, whereas if I had told 
someone of my uncontrollable desires nineteen years ago, I could 
have been put away and this awful thing would never have occurred. 
This desire to steal began when I was but nine years old, and by 
degrees has led to my arrest, April 5th, 19 10, and with my temper 
that has followed me always and at a flash notice has been the cause 
of many unhappy recollections that I have longed and wished were 
never so. . . . It is strange to me, Nettie, that so much money as 
I have been entrusted with and only once did I take from my em- 
ployer, and hundreds and* thousands of dollars have been entrusted 
to my care and- I never thought of taking a penny. And to think 
that I should go out from all that was good and steal, here and in 
every place I have been, and end up by killing a poor defenseless 
woman at any other time I would protect with my life — but the 
awful screaming of four women I suppose unnerved me and here I 
am. . . . 


No period of Spencer's life previous to his arrest was 
left uncovered by the defense; witnesses were produced 
to testify to his violent behavior and lack of self-control, 
as well as to other peculiarities of aspect and demeanor 
in every year of his life from early infancy. Dr. Drake 
confirmed the story of the laudanum poisoning as told 
by Mrs. Spencer and by Dr. Danielson, and added his 
own account of Mrs. Spencer's attempt at suicide by 
the same means. The last witness for this day was Dr. 
John A. Houston, Superintendent of the Northampton 
State Hospital. 

Dr. Houston was examined and cross-examined at 
great length, and much time was taken in attempts to 
get him to define and classify Bertram's degree of men- 
tal defectiveness. The doctor stated definitely, how- 
ever, that Spencer's was a ''defective mental state, if 
not degenerative, probably dating from puberty." This, 
he said, had been his first opinion before Spencer was 
sent to Bridgewater, and- he said he saw no reason for 
changing it. He stated that there were a great many 
cases of irresponsible mental deficiency that it was diffi- 
cult to classify by name. He said that Spencer's im- 
pulses were in a large sense imperative and uncontroll- 

On the eighth day, November 21st, Dr. Elliott was 
put on the stand by the defense, and the greater part 
of the day was taken by his examination- and that of 
Dr. Lane. The court ruled that Dr. Elliott's reports 
were not admissible as affirmative evidence, but that 
if the doctor testified on- the stand to anything that was 
contrary to what he had stated in any report, that re- 
port would be admissible. Dr. Elliott was well known 
to be a hostile witness, in the legal if not in the social 


acceptance of the term, and there was much wrangling 
over his testimony; though, as we have said in present- 
ing his reports, his opinion was not proved to have 
changed in regard to Spencer's mental condition, ex- 
cept in so f'ar as its expression was restricted by the 
legal definition of insanity furnished him by the At- 
torney General previous to the trial. The reports were 
finally admitted as evidence, though as I have said else- 
where, they were never published with other docu- 
ments admitted at the trial. 

The prisoner was in a most excitable condition all 
the time Dr. Elliott was testifying, and broke in upon 
his testimony in a manner unprecedented in any court 
in the history of criminal jurisprudence. The follow- 
ing account, taken from the signed report of Edwin J. 
Park in the evening edition of the Boston Globe of the 
same day, is substantiated by verbatim records of the 
court stenographers: 

For the first time since the trial began the prisoner was looking 
at a witness direct, and he kept his unblinking eyes fastened on Dr. 
Elliott. As the doctor testified Spencer, who had been fidgeting 
about in his seat but not removing his eyes from the doctor's face, 
began muttering. Dr. Elliott paid no attention to him but continued 
with his testimony and said that after Bert had been in Ward E-2 
for a month he was removed to what is commonly called at the State 
Farm the Northeast Ward which, he said, was "for conspirators who 
attempt to escape or show signs of violence." When Dr. Elliott 
gave this testimony, Spencer threw his right hand back to his hip 
pocket, his lips drew back from his teeth in a snarl, and he hissed 
out some words which were unintelligible to the reporters. Turnkey 
Wade, who was in the seat with Spencer, said something to him and 
placed a restraining hand on his right arm, while the prisoner's wife, 
who sat close to the cage on Bert's right side, also spoke to him and 
tried to reach through the bars and grasp his left hand, but he threw 
her hand aside. . . . Dr. Elliott said . . . "After I had kept Spen- 
cer in that ward for a month, I decided he could be removed to 
Building E. He wanted to go back to that building as there was 
a larger yard there, and he wanted to be where he could play ball, 


and " Dr. Elliott did not finish the sentence. With a wild 

cry that sounded like a combination of a shriek and a wail, the pris- 
oner jumped from his seat to the front of the steel cage, with Turnkey 
Wade clinging to him, and jelled: "You lie. You are a liar, a 
contemptible liar, and I want the court to know he is lying." 

Turnkey Wade is a hig and powerful officer, but his efforts to 
drag Spencer away from the front railing of the cage, which is about 
three feet high, or to force him back into his seat, were unavailing, 
and Deputy Sheriffs Leyden and Malone, both hig, husky men, 
jumped over the railing into the dock and fell upon the prisoner with 
Wade. Spencer fought all three of them with fists and feet, and a 
desperate battle, which lasted several minutes, ensued, "before the 
three officers, after fighting all over the dock, succeeded in flooring 
the prisoner. Finally he went down, with the three officers piled on 
top of him, but he did not stop fighting and struggling and it was 
at least three or four minutes before the weight of the officers on 
his legs, arms and body squeezed enou'gh of his strength out of him 
to cause him to let up in his impotent battle. 

Meantime, while he was fighting with the officers, Spencer's voice 
was raised to a high pitch, and among the things he said was : 

"Yes, I want the jury to hear me. I want every man and woman 
in this building to hear me. He's a liar — contemptible liar from 
start to finish ! I won't let him lie. I begged and begged of him to 
let me out of that stinking, nasty yard that he put me in. It isn't 
fit for a dog to be in. No, I won't shut up! — I will let ever} body 
know it. You can kill me this minute — I don't care — I won't shut 
up — I want everj^body to hear me. He's a contemptible beast — a 
murderer. He murdered men out there by the thousands and buried 
them out in the fields. L won't let up — I want to tell of it. I want 
everybody to hear. He has brutal punishment. They kept punish- 
ing me there — they kicked me in the ribs! I have been to that man 
and begged and begged on my knees that he would protect me. He 
laughed at me — laughed at me! And he says 'We will investigate 
— we will investigate.' But when did he investigate? Oh, such 
men as you ought to be killed — killed to the last man!" 

While the fight in the cage was going on between Spencer and the 
three officers, Bert's wife jumped from her seat and tried to get into 
the dock, but Court Officer Cummins grabbed her and held her 
back. Bert's mother and sister, who were behind the wife, also trie'd 
to get to the cage, but Cummins had caught the wife in a narrow 
place and they could not get by her. The tears coursed down the 
cheeks of the young wife and she wailed "O Bert! O Bert! O 
Bert! Oh, let me get to him! Oh, please let me get to his side!" 

After the officers had held Bert down for a few minutes and his 
struggles had partially ceased, while "his outcries had degenerated into 
a series of groans and squeals, Judge Crosby said calmly: "We will 


take a recess," and the jury was led out. Then Spencer, with the 
brawny hands of four court officers grasping him, was half led and 
half dragged from the court room and was removed to a remote 

As the jury was leaving the court room after the outbreak, the 
clerk said something to Attorney General James M. Swift about its 
having been an exciting incident, and Mr, Swift replied: "Yes, it 
was; but I was prepared for it; I had seen it coming all the morn- 
ing." Lawyer Stapleton, who overheard the remark, spoke up 
promptly and said to the Attorney General: "You had no right to 
make such a remark in the presence of the jury — it was highly im- 
proper." Mr. Swift retorted that he had not made the remark 
within the hearing of the jury, as it had passed beyond the range of 
his voice. 

Removed to a small room ofif the court, Spencer kept up his tirade 
against Dr, Elliott, and to the appeals of his counsel to control him- 
self and not interrupt the proceedings of the court, he screamed out, 
"I won't keep quiet when they are trying to take my life away." 

To Sheriff Clark, who also asked him to refrain from further out- 
breaks, the prisoner yelled, "I'll have my say. You've had your say, 
and it's my turn now — they can't keep me still." 

Spencer cried and yelled and screamed for nearly half an hour 
after he was removed to the anteroom, and it was three minutes over 
an hour* after the outbreak before the officers felt it safe to bring 
him back to the court room, Spencer's legs wabbled and he walked 
in between two supporting officers, and his legs and arms and hands 
twitched like those of a man suffering from St. Vitus' dance in acute 
form. Spenctr's mother and sister were so overcome by the scene 
that they did not return for some time after the prisoner had been 
brought in, but his faithful wife followed him and whispered words 
of counsel through the steel cage. 

After the recess the examination of Dr. Elliott was 
continued, and in the course of his examination and 
cross-examination, Dr. Elliott admitted in so many 
words that he still held all the opinions expressed in 
his reports, except as to possible delusions or hallucina- 
tions, but that in view of the definition furnished him 
^by the Attorney General, he now held the opinion that 
Spencer was not "legally insane" — that he knew the 
difference between right and wrong. But we know 
that even the July report admitted the existence of 


"irresistible impulses" at such times as *'his actions 
were dominated by anger." If -hehad any ''irresistible 
impulses," it would seem that he should have been 
called "legally insane." Dr. Elliott also admitted, in 
answer to Mr. Stapleton's questioning, that he might 
have referred to "primary dementia, paranoid form," 
in discussing Spencer's condition with the Rev. Mr. 
Smith of Lebanon. During Dr. Elliott's testimony as 
to his defectiveness Spencer muttered, "Oh, that ter- 
rible voice!" — referring to the witness, who was talk- 
ing in deep tones. 

The Rev. Eugene B. Smith was the next witness 
called. He said he had visited Spencer in Bridgewater 
on the 22nd of December, and that Dr. Elliott had then 
told him in regard to Spencer's stories as to his treat- 
ment and the conditions in the institution that, while 
Spencer was sincere and honest in his belief that they 
were perfectly true, they were nevertheless all a delu- 
sion. He said he had asked Dr. Elliott whether Spen- 
cer was not suffering from a form of paranoia, and 
that the latter had replied, "Exactly," and had ex- 
plained to him what that form of paranoia was; that 
when asked if it was incurable, Dr. Elliott had replied, 
^'Absolutely." He also said that Dr. Elliott had told 
him that he would be very sorry to have to send Spencer 
JDack to Springfield to stand trial. 

Dr. Edward B. Lane was the next witness sworn by 
the defense, and he testified that it was his opinion that 
Spencer was insane and that by reason of insanity he 
was unable to refrain from doing the act with which 
he stood charged, and that he did not understand the 
nature or consequences of his act. 

Reference to the events in the Dow home seemed to 


irritate Spencer. He had been quite composed before, 
but as the Attorney General's questions came to dwell 
on the details, he showed increasing signs of uneasiness 
and anger. Dr. Lane was finally asked to read from 
his notes of the testimony of the Dow women, and by 
this time Turnkey Wade and Spencer's wife were ex- 
erting all their efforts to restrain the prisoner. He 
threw off their restraint, and when Dr. Lane read the 
words which Spencer was alleged to have said when 
he shot Miss Dow — the same words which had excited 
Spencer the week before — Spencer shouted, "I'll give 
you something — I'll give you something! Yes, I mean 
you, you son of a bitch!" Wade was compelled to use 
considerable strength to hold him in the cage, and 
Deputies Malone and Leyden jumped in to help, and 
his voice finally became inaudible as he was pressed 
down on the bench. "From the bottom of this human 
pile," says the Springfield Union, in describing this 
scene, "came Spencer's mufiled voice: 'Let me alone! 
I'm all right!' When he sat up, with his hair tousled 
and his frame shivering, his wife tried to soothe him 
by stretching her hand through the wire lattice in order 
to take hold of his hand. This seemed to direct his 
anger toward her, and he struck her hand and several 
times ordered her to let him alone. The man continued 
to mutter and curse under his breath, to cry and make 
inarticulate sounds, but did not again interrupt the 
proceedings until later, when Dr. Courtney was called 
to the stand. The outbreak had caused very little con- 
fusion within the bar of the court, but a number of 
spectators rose in their seats to get a better view of the 
scrimmage. Sheriff Clark immediately ordered all the 
men to sit down, and all the men immediately did so, 


but a large number of women paid no attention to the 
order and remained standing, whereupon Judge Crosby 
said, *Let everyone who has remained standing be sent 
from the room.' So many of the women sat down 
immediately that it was impossible to distinguish those 
who had disobeyed the order of the judge, but two 
women were finally expelled in a state of great indig- 

A second outbreak occurred later, during Dr. Court- 
ney's testimony (also in behalf of the defendant) when 
the prisoner became much excited again at a reference 
in the hypothetical question to the shades not having 
been drawn in the Dow house. Spencer muttered to 
his wife, and finally broke out, "Judge, I want to tell 
you something about the case. Those shades were 
drawn. I never went into a house where there were 
shades up. Don't let this man come here and tell you 
that there were no shades there — don't let him tell you 
that lie!" Again the prisoner was quieted by the 

Dr. Courtney testified that it was his opinion that 
the prisoner was irresponsible — that he was insane. He 
said that Spencer was unable at the time of the deed 
charged to distinguish between right and wrong — that 
he was dominated by an irresistible impulse, and the 
cross-examination failed in any way to shake or qualify 
his testimony. 

I was the next witness, and I also testified that it 
was my opinion that the prisoner was insane at the time 
he committed the act with which he was charged; that 
I did not think it had been possible for the prisoner 
at that time to distinguish between right and wrong — 
that he was dominated by an irresistible impulse. Dur- 


ing the cross-examination Attorney General Swift gave 
me an opportunity to present the following history 
which had not before been testified to: That Spencer 
found himself at the throat of his child twice and had 
been torn away by his wife before he realized what he 
was doing; that he remembered hearing the child 
scream and remembered nothing else until his wife 
took him away from the child; that he once found him- 
self two blocks away from his house in his nightgown 
with a desire to visit houses before he realized what 
he was doing, then finding himself in his night clothes 
returned, disturbing the family. When his wife asked 
him what he was up for he said he was chasing a burg- 
lar away from the house, and he threw some matches 
outside of the window to corroborate his story, so that 
the burnt matches would be found in the morning. In 
the morning he took his wife and other members of the 
family to the open window, showed them the window 
and the burnt matches and an officer was passing by 
and he also showed the officer the open window and 
the matches. That twice at a theatre he had to leave 
in the middle of a play in response to a compelling im- 
pulse to enter houses and commit burglaries. That he 
walked to Longmeadow and back one night trying to 
resist the impulse of going into different houses and 
he said the Devil tempted him at every house and final- 
ly he saw a jpop hanging on a pole just before he got 
at his own house and he took it home and gave it to his 
wife, being satisfied as long as he had got something. 
At another time he went out for one of his expeditions, 
struggled against it, went back to his house, then re- 
turned and after wandering around took a brake shoe 
from a house and lugged it home and thought it was 


still in his yard. That he told me that at times he was 
satisfied with a stickpin or any little fancy cup ; at other 
times he felt he wanted to take everything in the house, 
in fact the whole house; that the thing that attracted 
him in the jackknife he stole when a boy was the little 
inset or inlay of brass; that he always took first stick- 
pins if he could find them, otherwise bright things that 
were shiny or attractive or pieces of china or orna- 
ments. If he could not find these he would take any- 

On re-direct examination, I told of my conversation 
with Dr. Elliott on the occasion of my visit to Bridge- 
water, and said that Dr. Elliott had stated to me at 
that time that he considered Spencer a high-grade im- 
becile — that he had investigated the charges made in 
Spencer's letters to his mother and that they were all 
delusions. That Dr. Elliott had also told me on this 
occasion that Spencer was under delusions with regard 
to his father before he came to Bridgewater. 

The defense rested with the conclusion of the testi- 
mony of the three experts, and the Commonwealth then 
called a number of the neighbors of the Spencer family 
in Lebanon to refute the testimony as to Bertram's pe- 
culiarities and the family history. Their testimony, 
however, did not disprove the main facts in the history 
of Spencer's life that had been offered by witnesses 
called for the defense. In substance, they merely stated 
that they had never known of Bertram's outbreaks, or 
that they had forgotten if such outbreaks had occurred. 
One of his former teachers, Miss Louise W. Cooley, 
testified that she had given Bertram a certificate recom- 
mending him for the Navy; under cross-examination, 
however, she admitted that he was "always in trouble," 


and told of one occasion when he had run home and got 
his father's revolver and strutted about the school yard 
with it; she also admitted that he had been accustomed 
to run home without permission when he wanted a 
pencil. Charles B. Noyes, Deputy Sheriff of Lebanon, 
although he testified that he had never seen anything 
peculiar about the prisoner, related how Bertram's 
father came to him on two different occasions and told 
him that the boy had run away and asked Noyes to go 
out and get him and bring him back. Charles L. 
Pitcher, one of Spencer's former companions in Leb- 
anon, told of a fight he had had with Spencer: he had 
been walking home with two girls, with one of whom 
Spencer had formerly been intimate; he met Spencer 
with another young man and accused Spencer of fol- 
lowing him about; Spencer had then attacked him and 
had directed the other fellow to get a stone and knock 
him on head. "I made him drop the stone," said 
Pitcher, "and when I turned around, there was Spencer 
with a pistol out about ten feet away from me. At once 
I saw what he would do, and as I had no desire to be 
shot in the back I turned him around. He fired three 
shots; I fended off the pistol hand after he fired the 
first shot; I was too y^lose to him and he couldn't get 
his pistol between the two of us ... 7 don't know as 
I thought it was anything peculiar about him — seeing 
it was him." 

Frederick A. Dean, a former dancing master, after 
testifying that he had never noticed anything peculiar 
about Bertram and that he considered him amiable, 
pleasant and agreeable, admitted that as a child he had 
caused disturbances in the dancing class, that when he 
was as young as five years of age he had been a little 


disorderly, that at home he did things that his parents 
disapproved of, and that on one occasion he had done 
some injury to the stove, so that the class had to be 
stopped until it could be repaired. Various former 
acquaintances of Spencer's in Springfield also testified 
that they had not noticed Bertram's peculiarities, like- 
wise a number of fellow workmen in the street car 
company, the Boston and Maine Railroad and other 
places where Spencer had been employed, both in 
Hartford and Springfield. Although all these men 
testified that they had never seen anything peculiar, 
unusual or eccentric about Spencer, none of them 
claimed to have seen Spencer under conditions tending 
to excite him or to arouse his temper, and none had 
been witnesses of the events described as peculiar by 
the witnesses for the defense. Motorman Gilhooley 
testified as to having been held up and shot by Spencer. 
He was the last witness for the ninth day. 

On the tenth day Mr. Callahan continued to examine 
former acquaintances of Spencer's in Springfield, espe- 
cially among the railway employees and policemen. 
Many of them had known him but slightly, and it was 
natural that they should testify that they had not noticed 
anything unusual or eccentric about him. One of them 
told of Spencer's row with the engineer, Hathaway, 
because the former had insisted upon blowing the 
whistle of the locomotive as a signal to his wife, in spite 
of orders. He did not consider Spencer's behavior ec- 
centric or unusual, he said, "no more than any other 
man that has a fiery temper." 

The testimony of these witnesses bore out the fact 
that when Spencer was on the Boston and Maine Rail- 
road he used to wear a revolver in a holster, with which 


it was his habit to shoot from the top of the freight 
cars. A number of the former railroad and street car 
employees who testified in behalf of the Commonwealth 
had since become members of the police force. The 
testimony of Harry J. Stone, th& night guard at the 
Hampden County Jail as to Spencer's outbreak in the 
early morning of May i8th, 1910, has already been 
given in his history on page 105. The story of this 
pitiful event was corroborated by Turnkey Wade, in- 
cluding the account of the application of mechanical 
restraint and the prisoner's removal to "Chicopee 
House." Dr. Hooker was then put on the stand and 
gave his testimony as to what he believed to have been 
Spencer's "faking" on this occasion. At this point, his 
testimony was interrupted by an outbreak from the 
prisoner, who rose in his cage and shouted, "Faking, 
you son of a bitch ! You are the one that tried to poison 
me. You are the one that put poison in my cup. I 
wasn't faking then, was I?" Turnkey Wade grabbed 
him and endeavored to force him back to the bench, 
and Spencer went on crying, after a struggle: "I was 
faking, was I? I was faking? No, I won't shut up! 
I won't shut up! I will let everybody know what he 
was doing: he was trying to put poison in my cup, in 
my water, one night. I caught him — another man saw 
me — saw him — saw him putting it in my cup — in my 
salt and pepper shaker. I was faking, was I?" Wade 
was helped by two deputies, but "the turnkey did not 
need much assistance," says the Springfield Union of 
November 23rd: 

He slammed Spencer down on the bench in the cage, and the 
prisoner grunted. He lay for a minute groaning and grunting, every 
once in a while muttering aloud "Faking, was I ?" 


Then, as Wade and his deputies stood about him, 
he said "Go away. No need of standing and holding 
me — I am all right, I am all right." He then resumed 
his seat and was given a glass of water. 

Sheriff Clark was brought in to testify that Spencer 
had refused to talk to Col. Young when the latter had 
first been appointed his counsel, and upon cross-exam- 
ination he corroborated other testimony as to Spencer's 
behavior in the jail. Mr. Charles L. Simonds, who 
had found Spencer's locket and kept it for six months, 
was the next to testify, and after him Captain Boyle 
was recalled and testified that both Kantor and Mrs. 
Walters had spoken of Spencer as a normal individual 
in previous interviews with him. 

But Mr. Callahan's star witness in refutation of the 
defense of insanity was Horace M. St. John, alias Ed- 
win R. Bell, an inmate of the Charlestown State Prison, 
who had previously been sent from the prison to 
Bridgewater because he was insane, and who had been 
one of Spencer's companions at the latter institution. 
Bell said that he had become rather intimate with 
Spencer. . . , "I was talking with Bertram G. Spencer 
a little while after he had been singing a song in the 
chapel. We were rehearsing for a show; and I spoke 
to Spencer and I said to him, 'Any man that can sing 
and draw and play around like you doesn i seem to be 
particularly insane.' He shook his head a good deal 
like that [illustrating] — and then he told me that as 
long as he did that he had an idea the doctors would 
think he was insane. At another time he told me that 
he thought if he invented a few lies about the institu- 
tion, said that there was brutality and such things going 
on down there, that he thought that Dr. Elliott would 


think that he had delusions, and therefore keep him in 
there and declare him an insane man. At another time 
I asked him about this — about this killing affair — and 
I asked him, I says, 'Couldn't you have taken this 
woman and given her a good swift punch under the 
jaw and made your getaway?' . . . and he said 'Well, 
I could, but dead people tell no tales.' At another time 
I was speaking about it, and he told me that if this 
woman had been alive that she might have identified 
him a little later, and that he thought it was the best 
thing he could do for his own good to kill her. I in- 
formed Dr. Elliott about it." 

Under cross-examination, Bell, or St. John, admitted 
that he had still five years and two months to serve in 
Charlestown for assault with intent to kill. Mr. Staple- 
ton brought out that the conversation in which Bell 
asserted that Spencer had said that as long as he told 
stories about the institution he thought Dr. Elliott 
would think he had delusions had taken place about 
Thanksgiving time, and that he had reported to Dr. 
Elliott that the prisoner had practically told him that 
he had feigned insanity. He was somewhat confused 
about the date at which he had given this information, 
but thought it was not until August that he had written 
a letter to Dr. Elliott about it, and he said that Dr. 
Elliott had come to him in October, after the doctor 
had resigned as Superintendent at Bridgewater, and 
that he had questioned him about Spencer in Dr. 
Baker^s presence, and that he, the witness, had been 
returned to Charlestown on the 27th of October. Bell 
said that Spencer had told him that the story about 
being hit with a ring was not true — that he had made 
the wound on his own head with a piece of glass; that 


he had not been hit by the Attendant LeMae — the wit- 
ness said that he did not know whether Spencer had 
actually been hit. Bell admitted having sent out a 
letter from Bridgewater to the Boston American, ad- 
mitting that he himself had feigned insanity and com- 
plaining that he was being held at Bridgewater after 
acknowledging that he had been feigning. 

Now, admitting the very doubtful credibility of this 
witness, his evidence seems to us not to be worth con- 
sidering as testimony as to Spencer's mental condition. 
If, as Bell said, Spencer actually did tell him that he 
was feigning insanity, this did not in any way prove that 
the prisoner was not actually insane. An insane per- 
son may be as capable of feigning as anyone else, nor 
would it have been strange for Spencer to claim to be 
feigning when he was not actually doing so. He might 
have made some such boast to a companion. Nor were 
the counts upon which Spencer was said to have been 
feigning recorded by Dr. Elliott nor anyone else as 
symptoms of his insanity. 

Bell is said to have denied that he was transferred 
from Bridgewater back to the Charlestown State Prison 
after he had told his story in order that it might be 
used at the trial, which could not have been done if 
he was still under commitment as insane. Now he was 
insane in the eyes of the law when the conversation took 
place at Bridgewater, and Dr. Elliott must have 
thought so, else he was guilty of keeping a sane man in 
his institution for the insane. And if Bell was insane 
and did have delusions, what was his form of insanity? 
But in Dr. Elliott's opinion, he recovered his sanity 
about eight weeks after he voluntarily wrote a letter 


to Dr. Elliott with statements that he would help El- 
liott in his contention that Spencer was legally sane. 

The District Attorney next read to the jury the re- 
port of the Medical Survey at the time Spencer was 
discharged from the Navy, giving the cause of his dis- 
charge as ''enuresis"; and after considerable discussion 
between the lawyers and the Judge, two letters from 
Spencer to the principal of the Mt. Hermon School 
were admitted as evidence. In the first of these, he 
applies for admission to the school, stating that his 
education has been sadly neglected "since a young boy, 
and I realize more and more each day how poorly fit- 
ted I am to battle with the world." The letter is very 
well expressed, but though it was undoubtedly written 
by Spencer, it bears the hall marks of having been dic- 
tated by one of his elders — as such letters generally 
were, for youths of his age at that time. The second 
letter is more characteristic of Spencer, who was, as we 
know, an excellent letter-writer, in spite of some de- 
fects in his education. It was written soon after he 
had left the Mt. Hermon School: 

Springfield, Mass., June 9, 1903. 
Professor Cutler, 
Dear Sir: 

Hearing of your sad loss, let me, as a friend, express my sympathy. 
Your wife was a lovely woman, and I hope you both meet in the 
hereafter. I hold no ill-feeling towards you, Mr. Cutler, and I am 
trying to lead an honest, upright and God-fearing life. I have no 
bad habits, and what I done up at Mt. Hermon was done more to 
be smart. I ask your forgiveness for all my foolish actions, and may 
God be with you in all your afflictions and be a comfort to you in the 

Yours most respectfully, 

(Signed) B. G. Spencer. 
105 Main Street. 


The next witness called was Dr. Leonard A. Baker, 
Assistant Physician at Bridgewater, who said that in 
Spencer's case it was his opinion that there was a de- 
gree of mental defect, but that he was not insane, in spite 
of the fact that he wrote in his report to the Chief 
Justice under date of March 17, 191 1, that he saw no 
change either mentally or physically since the previous 
report made by Dr. Elliott on April 17 in which Dr. 
Elliott said: ''Prolonged observation, however, but 
strengthens our opinion that Spencer is deficient in 
moral understanding as the result of mental defect of 
long standing." Dr. Baker said that all of Spencer's 
complaints of abuses at Bridgewater had been investi- 
gated, and that in one instance they were proved to 
have been founded on fact. 

Dr. Quinby was then called. The prosecution asked 
him a very long hypothetical question as follows: 

Q. Assuming that on March 31, 19 10, shortly before 8 o'clock in 
the evening, a man arrived at Round Hill in Springfield and tried 
the windows in the house occupied on the lower floor by the Dow 
family; that, having found the window there in the back bedroom 
of the house closed, but unlocked, the man went behind another build- 
ing near by and there removed his shoes, stiff hat and coat, and put 
on a soft, dark hafe and tied a black muffler or handkerchief over 
the lower part of his face and returned to the house and entered it, 
for the purpose of committing a burglary, being at the time armed 
with a revolver and carr\ ing a flash light, through a window of the 
back bedroom, there taking a brooch pin, a bead belt and another 
stone or gem from the bureau drawer in that bedroom ; that he then 
went through into the dining room of the house and came to the 
door leading from the dining room into the back parlor, as shown 
in evidence upon the plan before you; that in the back parlor were 
four women around a table over in the northwest corner, plaving 
with a picture puzzle; that as the man advanced through the door- 
way from the dining room into the back parlor he made a guttural 
sound, not otherwise described, and a movement of his hands toward 
the women and advanced into the room toward them ; that the four 
women stood up, screaming, and that the man demanded that they 


keep quiet; that the women made a concerted motion toward the 
front parlor and on toward the outer door; that the man drew his 
revolver, proceeded through the back parlor and through the arch- 
way, as shown on the plan, to the front parlor and demanded their 
money, saying "I want your money"; that one of the women replied, 
"We have no money in the house"; that one of the women, Miss 
Harriet Dow, slipped on a rug under the archway and fell; and one 
of the women, the mother, Mrs. Dow, came and helped her up, 
telling her to be calm ; that another of the women. Miss Blackstone, 
had gone ahead and was near the door leading from the front parlor 
into the front hall, as shown in the plan, when the man took a quick 
stride and placed himself almost in front of her, near the door, and 
shot her, and she fell over upon the sofa; that Miss Harriet Dow 
went toward the man where he was standing, and commenced to 
scream again, when the man swore at her, asked her to be quiet, 
again demanded the money and then stepped toward the window 
leading from the front parlor out under the piazza, — the north win- 
dow, as indicated on the plan, — the shade of which was halfway 
up, and made a motion towards it; that meanwhile another of the 
women. Miss Lucy Dow, had started for the telephone in the north- 
east corner of the back parlor, and another, the mother, Mrs. Dow, 
was escaping into the hall, and the man raised his arm with his 
pistol in his hand and pointed it towards her back; that Miss Harriet 
Dow took a chair that was there and hurled it at him, hitting his 
arm; that the man then turned from pointing towards Mrs. Dow in 
the hall and pointed the revolver at Miss Harriet Dow and said, "Do 
you want to die? Well, die then!" and fired at her, striking her in 
the head, and she fell; that meanwhile the mother, Mrs. Dow, had 
gone upstairs and the man, who had done the shooting, disappeared 
through the front door, out on to the front porch, jumped over the 
railing on to the ground and from there had gone back of the build- 
ing, the other building, obtained his shoes and his clothing that he 
had discarded, ran down the hill through the woods until he came 
to a large chestnut tree ; that he sat at the foot of that tree, put on 
his shoes and his clothing, took off his mask and hat, put them in his 
pocket, went down through and over a fence, and on to Main Street, 
almost opposite Bancroft Street; that he started to go along south 
on North Main Street, which would be towards the center of Spring- 
field, until he saw a police officer, one James Dowling, whom he 
knew, standing at the police signal box; that he did not desire, did 
not wish to go by the policeman; that he turned and went up Arch 
Street to North; from North, southerly to Carew, on Carew to 
Chestnut Street, from Chestnut Street to Bridge Street; over the 
bridge to West Springfield, to his home on Porter Avenue in West 
Springfield; that he arrived home about quarter of 9; that he went 
into the house and into his bedroom, closed the door, took out his 


revolver, cleaned it and reloaded it, when he found there were two 
empty shells therein; that he placed the revolver under the pillow, 
and also the flash light which he had carried with him, and took the 
black soft hat and put it into the stove, where there was a coal fire — 
were you able to follow that hypothesis, Doctor? A. I think so, 
fairly well. 

Q. Taking that assumption that I have just given you, whether 
or not it is consistent with the action of a sane man intent on com- 
mitting burglary and seeking to escape capture; assuming that he 
feared that the screams of the women assumed in the question, or 
their escape while he was in the house, would lead to his apprehen- 
sion and arrest; my question is, on that assumption, was the action 
of that man consistent with the action of a sane man? A. I think 
his act was consistent with that of a sane man at that time. 

Q. Taking the same assumption, whether or not it is your 
opinion that the man assumed in the question knew the difference 
between right and wTong, and that he was liable to punishment 
therefor when he committed the crime described in my question? 
A. I think that he knew the difference between right and wrong. 

Q. Whether or not, upon the same assumption, the same man 
was, in your opinion, at the time when he committed the crime de- 
scribed, acting under the compulsion of an irresistible impulse? 
A, He was not. 

Q. Did you hear read in court the confession of the defendant 
here? A. I did. 

Q. And have you since read it over, copies of it, so that you have 
it in mind pretty well? A. I have. 

Q. Then, Doctor, in addition to the hypothesis which I first 
gave you, assuming that this same man had committed without 
detection a series of fourteen burglaries and one hold-up in about two 
years prior to September 23, 1909, as stated in that confession, that 
on the evening of said September 23, 1909, he placed a ladder against 
the roof of the piazza of a house, intending to enter the second-story 
window which he saw open, but was frightened away by some one 
appearing in the house and quickly slid down the ladder; that in 
doing so he lost a locket engraved with his initials and contaming 
the pictures of his mother and sister, which he feared would lead to 
his detection, so much so that he returned the next night and en- 
deavored to find it at the house where he thought he had lost it; 
that subsequently to that he refrained until March 31, 1 910, for a 
period of over six months, from committing any other crime for 
fear that the locket might have been found and that it would lead 
to his detection and punishment, and that further, before he started 
to commit the crime which took place at the Dow house as already 
assumed, he had made up his mind that the locket had not been 

SPENCER • 189 

found and there was no longer fear of detection through that, — 
whether or not this hypothesis, in addition to the assumption already 
given, leads you to the opinion that the man at the time when he shot 
Miss Blackstone on the evening of March 31, 19 10, knew right from 
wrong in the sense already given you, or was acting under the com- 
pulsion of an irresistible impulse? Do I make myself clear? A. I 

Q. Perhaps I will ask you those questions separately. Whether 
or not this additional — the second assumption that I have just given 
you — leads you to the same conclusion, that the man in the assump- 
tion knew the difference between right and wrong? A. From that 
incident I should draw a conclusion as to his condition at the time 
that he slid down the ladder, but I don't know how I can draw a 
conclusion in regard to that at the time of shooting. 

Q. I fear I have not made my question plain to you. Does that 
assumption that I have given you lead you away from the conclusion 
that you have already expressed? A. It does not. 

Q. Whether or not it would tend to confirm it? A. Yes, I 
think it would tend to confirm it. 

Q. That is, whether or not the fact that for a period of over 
six months after attempting this September 23, 1909, crime, where 
he lost his locket, for fear that the locket might have been found and 
that it would lead to his detection and punishment, and further, be- 
fore he started to commit the crime which took place at the Dow 
house as already assumed he had made up his mind that the locket 
had not been found and there was no longer fear of detection through 
that, — would that confirm your opinion that he knew the difference 
between right and wrong? A. It would confirm my opinion that he 
had self-control, certainly. 

Q. Well, to answer the precise question, that he was not acting 
under the compulsion of an irresistible impulse on the night of the 
murder, if I understand you rightly? A. I can't see what that has 
to do with the night of the murder. 

Q. Well, if it does not affect your judgment I won't dwell on 
it. The question in brief is. Doctor — I want to make myself plain, 
and it is a very long question and it is pretty difficult for you to keep 
in your mind, as it would be for me if I didn't have it here. Would 
the fact in connection with the other facts assumed here, that having 
lost the locket and fearing detection from the loss of that locket, 
and so refraining from committing any other crime for six months — 
would that fact strengthen your opinion that he was not, on the 
night of committing this crime as outlined in the question, acting 
under an irresistible impulse? Let me add to that that before start- 
ing out on this crime he had made up his mind that there was no 
danger of detection from the loss of that locket any longer. A. That 


incident conveys to my mind the impression that the man was able 
to control himself, and not, as he claimed, was driven by an irresist- 
ible impulse to commit burglaries. 

Q. That answers the question precisely, Doctor, I think. Now, 
in addition to the hypotheses already given you, assume that the 
reason for the crimes which have been committed by the man in the 
assumed question was because he liked a nice home and nice things 
and was not earning money enough to support the kind of home that 
he wanted, — would that strengthen the opinion you have already 
expressed, or otherwise ? A. It would strengthen it. 

Q. Having in mind beside the hypotheses already given you. 
Doctor, I will ask you to assume that the man described to you is 
the defendant, and taking into consideration his age, appearance and 
physical characteristics as you have found them and seen them, his 
ancestry and history as testified to in court by the mother and father, 
his ow^n statements so far as testified to, and taking into considera- 
tion the appearance and testimony of the father and mother as they 
appeared upon the witness stand, his history at Bridgew-ater as given 
in the reports in evidence, — whether or not you are of the opinion 
that this defendant on the night that he shot Miss Blackstone knew 
right from wrong, and that there was a punishment attached to the 
commission of the wTong? A. I do. 

Q. And whether or not in your opinion at the time of the shoot- 
ing of Miss Blackstone he was acting under the compulsion of an 
irresistible impulse ? A. He was not. 

The cross-examination of Dr. Quinby by Mr. Staple- 
ton brought out the following questions and answers : 

Q. Of course that is largely a question of the degree of the de- 
fect, is it, whether you would call him insane or not ? A. Well, not 
all high-grade imbeciles are sufficiently defective to be insane. 

Q. Some alienists would classify among the insane those who are 
suffering from any severe mental defect? A. No, I think there is a 
distinction there. 

Q. I take it, Doctor, that the insane are to a certain extent 
amenable to discipline? A. Certainly. 

Q. All but the most extreme cases are amenable to some dis- 
cipline? A. Some of the extreme cases are amenable to discipline. 

Q. And taking that evidence as a whole, excluding the father 
and mother of the defendant, you say that that might be — a heredity 
of that sort might be one of the predisposing causes to insanity? 
A. I think it might be, yes, sir. 

Q. Well, of a man's four grandparents, if one died of senile 
dementia, and was eccentric for many years before his death; if 
another one died of softening of the brain at the age of forty-three; 


if a third one has hysterics during the greater part of her life and was 
out of her mind for some months before her death, and if the fourth 
one was irritable, nervous and addicted to drink, — with the four 
grandparents as I have described and assuming that to be true, it 
would be a rather bad heredity for a grandchild, wouldn't it? 
A. Be a rather bad heredity for a grandchild. 

Q. Is the fact that a child about the age of twelve is doing un- 
successfully third or fourth grade work, that at the age of nineteen 
or twenty is doing unsuccessfully elementary work, entitled to any 
consideration in arriving at the conclusion as to whether or not there 
is a mental defect? A. It is. 

Q. Is the fact that at the age of fourteen years the child is 
afflicted with enuresis entitled to some consideration? A. I should 
think it might be. 

Q. You examined this defendant over a year ago at the request 
of the district attorney? A. I did. 

Q. And after those two examinations you, with Dr. Houston 
representing the State, held a conference in Worcester with Dr. 
Courtney representing the defense? A. Yes. 

Q. As a result of that, Doctor, you testified before the hearing 
on motion to commit this defendant, held before Judge Aiken of 
this court and Judge Sanderson ? A. I did. 

Q. And you were asked the question: "In your opinion what 
was the nature of that mental aberration?" and the answer was, 
"When it comes to giving a name to it I shouldn't want to say posi- 
tively. My impression was it was a case which would eventuate at 
least in dementia praecox. Still, I shouldn't want to be pinned to 
that opinion at the present time." A. That was my opinion at that 

Q. Dementia praecox, I take it, is a broad term ? A. Yes. 

Q. Which is used in a somewhat different sense by different 
alienists? A. Yes. 

Q. By some it includes cases of imbecility or degenerative types, 
and others would use it more strictly as you do? A. Yes. 

Q. You were asked the question: "So far as you had any opinion, 
that was your diagnosis of the nature of it?" to which you said, "It 
seemed to me very probable?" A. That was my opinion. 

Q. And you were asked the question further: "Whether or not 
what you say, Doctor, — I should like to know, — you say he is under 
some mental aberration, — but I should like to know whether or not 
in your judgment he is in such a case or frame of mind, or his mind 
is in such a condition, that you are able to form an opinion now 
whether he is or is not responsible or was or was not responsible for 
this offence?" And your answer was: "I am very much in doubt as 
to his responsibility — as to the degree of his responsibility." A. That 
was my opinion at that time, certainly. 


Q. To allow you, Doctor, to state your whole opinion at that 
time, I will ask you, you were further asked the question: "What do 
you say. Doctor, as to whether in your judgment the statute of 1909 
which allows him to be committed to an insane asylum for observa- 
tion is one that would well be invoked in this case — that ought to 
be invoked in this case?" to which you answered: "I should think 
it is very fitting." A. That was my reply to the question. 

Q. And you were asked by the Honorable Chief Justice Aiken 
of this court: "What is your answer to that?" and you repeated: "I 
think it is very fitting that it should be invoked in this case." Is 
that A. That is my answer. 

Q. And you were also asked if you desired further time for obser- 
vation, and you answered that you should. A. That was my answer. 

The next witness sworn was Dr. Daniel H. Fuller 
of the State Board of Insanity. Dr. Fuller's answer 
to the hypothetical question : "Assuming these to be the 
facts and all the facts that I am permitted to consider, 
I think it is" (i. e. consistent with the action of a sane 
man). On the same assumption, he did not believe 
Spencer to have been acting under the compulsion of 
an irresistible impulse; and again under the same as- 
sumption he believed Spencer knew the difference be- 
tween right and wrong, with reference to punishment 
for his act. 

On cross-examination, Dr. Fuller said that there are 
a great many among the insane who have knowledge 
of right and wrong, and that in most of the insane insti- 
tutions a large number of the inmates are amenable to 
discipline and that every institution has its rules for 
the discipline of the inmates. Also, he testified that in 
his opinion the average child of four or five years old 
has some idea of right and wrong; that such knowledge 
might or might not exist, and that the power which 
enables a man to resist an impulse is called his "power 
of inhibition," and that a high-grade imbecile, acting 
on these ideas which arise in his mind does so because 


his power of inhibition is lacking or defective, and that 
that deficiency in his inhibitory powers might be very 
little or very great; also that insane men play instru- 
ments very well. His testimony lasted over until the 
eleventh and last day of the trial, most of Mr. Staple- 
ton's questions covered generalities as to the traits of 
mental defectives. 

When the lawyers had finished with Dr. Fuller, Dr. 
George T. Tuttle was called. Dr. Tuttle stated that 
he had arrived at the conclusion after his first examina- 
tion of Spencer that he was a defective individual — 
had been so from his birth — that he knew right from 
wrong; but Dr. Tuttle said that he had been unable 
at that time to decide whether the prisoner could re- 
sist doing wrong — whether he was not under the com- 
pulsion of an irresistible impulse. After his second 
examination and with the information put before him 
at the trial. Dr. Tuttle thought Spencer was not acting 
under such an impulse. He said, in answer to Mr. 
Stapleton's cross-questioning, that Spencer might at 
times have been unable to control himself. 

Before the court adjourned for a recess, Mr. Staple- 
ton asked Judge Crosby whether the court would fol- 
low the language of Chief Justice Shaw in the case of 
"Commonwealth v. Rogers, in 7 Metcalf," in regard 
to the standard of right and wrong, and Judge Crosby 
read the following quotation from Chief Justice Shaw 
in that case, saying that he intended to use it in his 
charge to the jury: 

A man is not to be excused from responsibility if he has capacity 
and reason sufficient to enable him to distinguish between right and 
wrong as to the particular act he is then doing; a knowledge and 
consciousness that the act he is doing is wrong and criminal, and 
will subject him to punishment. In order to be responsible, he must 


have sufficient power of memory to recollect the relation in which 
he stands to others and in which others stand to him; that the act 
he is doing is contrary to the plain dictates ot justice and right, in- 
jurious to others and a violation of the dictates of duty. 

In his closing argument for the defense, Mr. Staple- 
ton reviewed the facts, as proven by the witnesses, of 
Spencer's almost unbroken line of heredity of nervous 
or mental defect, of his undoubted peculiarities and the 
unusual outbreaks and punishments of his early life, 
calling the attention of the jury to the statements made 
by the doctors on both sides that an imbecile requires a 
very special sort of training for his own safety and the 
safety of the community, and emphasizing the fact that 
Spencer's early training was such as to warp and twist 
his mind and incline him toward criminal acts. He 
again recounted Spencer's outbreaks as testified to by his 
companions wherever he had been up to the time 
of his arrest, and called their attention to his peculiar 
suggestibility, citing the example of the false report 
of his arrest for burglary, saying: 

What effect of suggestion will that have upon a diseased and dis- 
ordered brai'n that has been defective from birth and twisted toward 
criminal life by Impulse, training and treatment? All of the alienists 
have told you that an imbecile is peculiarly liable to suggestions, 
and I leave you to reason out what influence that suggestion had 
upon the mind of this defendant to lead him to take up a criminal 
career. ... It is true he had always been addicted to stealing. He 
had always had that accursed desire to steal which he could never 
master and which dominated him, and through some method or other 
the suggestion came into this diseased brain to enter houses, and the 
entering of them took possession of him, and after awhile it domi- 
nated him. First it charmed him, it fascinated him, and then it 
took possession of him and drove him out to a life of crime. And it 
was progressive, in a degree, because first he merely entered houses 
and did not show himself. But after awhile, under the actuating 
intellect, he must have the dramatic setting. He might be able to 
escape detection easily if he would enter and go away — but no. In 


that enfeebled brain comes the idea that he must show himself — that 
he must be dramatic — that he must appear with a mask. 

Mr. Stapleton then reviewed the experts' testimony, 
inquiring why it was that Dr. Houston had been sum- 
moned only a day after Spencer's arrest, if there were 
not something peculiar or unusual about his conduct, 
and if the police did not themselves believe there was 
something wrong with him. He made a very strong 
point of Dr. Elliott's change of front, imputing to him 
a motive in declaring Spencer sane after asserting to 
the contrary for eight months in his reports to the Chief 
Justice, and saying: "Gentlemen, I say to you in all 
seriousness, in all honesty, that when Dr. Elliott sent 
that man back here for trial, he committed a greater 
crime against the majesty of the law than ever Spencer 

In rehearsing Dr. Hooker's testimony that he be- 
lieved Spencer to be shamming insanity in the jail, on 
the ground that his pulse was normal and that he had 
been amenable to discipline, Mr. Stapleton called at- 
tention to the fact that Dr. Hooker had arrived some 
hours after the outbreak had begun, and that the pa- 
tient had probably calmed down by that time; and he 
cited the fact known to all who have had the care of 
the insane that most of them are amenable to discipline. 
He argued the inconsistency of Spencer's antagonizing 
the doctors by sending out a continuous flow of com- 
plaints from the hospital, if he were really sane and 
merely shamming insanity. Mr. Stapleton continued 
at length to argue the weakness of the Commonwealth's 
counter evidence of Spencer's sanity, saying very truly 
that a number of these witnesses, who had "noticed 
nothing peculiar" about Spencer, had nevertheless cited 


instances in his career which were distinctly abnormal. 
In reviewing the statements of the witness Bell from 
the Charlestown State Prison, who had said that Spen- 
cer had told him he was "faking" insanity, Mr. Staple- 
ton said: "There isn't one scrap or particle of evidence 
in this case, by any man, that as they examined Spencer 
at the time he was in confinement since a year ago last 
April — that Spencer ever shook his head in that fash- 
ion" (illustrating). "Dr. Quinby examined him, 
Houston, Baker and Fuller, on behalf of the State. . . . 
He says (referring to Bell) Spencer told him the 
stories of complaints were fakes and that he saw a cut 
on the back of Spencer's head, and that after Spencer 
complained that he got hit with a blackjack, he says 
that Spencer confessed that he had made it himself 
with a piece of glass. And Dr. Baker, from that insti- 
tution, who saw Spencer twice, and who says he ex- 
amined Spencer's head at the time of the blackjack 
episode, says there wasn't any mark there. . . . And 
you have besides the fact that Dr. Elliott and Dr. Baker 
said that Spencer believed these complaints; so that 
you have got to take their word in perference to that 
of a confessed felon. . . . Now, gentlemen, if they 
thought this man was feigning, why couldn't they have 
produced an alienist to show that? . . ." 

The point that Mr. Stapleton missed in regard to 
the charge of Spencer's having feigned insanity, is that 
whether or not he was feigning is of little importance 
and would have no significance as proof of his sanity 
or insanity. That he was very suggestible has already 
been shown, and in the environment of an insane hos- 
pital it is natural that he should have imitated the ac- 
tions of his companions, especially as he had an abnor- 


mal love of sensational acting. This we see plainly 
proved by his fondness for dressing up and appearing 
in the guise of a desperado in his different burglaries. 

Mr. Stapleton pleaded that he was not asking to 
have Spencer set free, but that he should be confined 
for life, by order of the court, in an institution for the 
insane; and in case they were still in any doubt as to 
the insanity of the defendant, he was at least entitled 
to the benefit of that doubt; that at any rate, even if 
Spencer were sane, he should not be convicted of more 
than a second degree offense. 

Mr. Swift's able summing up for the Commonwealth 
left untouched no little point in the evidence which 
could be turned to the advantage of his argument that 
Spencer was sane and responsible, that his crimes were 
deliberately planned and that he should bear the full 
penalty for the crime of murder in the first degree. 
After summing up Bertram's crimes and their motives, 
as he interpreted them, he said: 

He has demonstrated in that dramatic way in which he committed 
his robberies, his burglaries, his hold-up — pulling down his hat over 
his face, pulling the black handkerchief over his face and about his 
nose, so that only about so much of his face was visible, that he liked 
to have things arranged in a theatrical manner. In all of that he 
was an actor — he was an actor when the police came in and arrested 
him. He was an actor every day of his life. 

He then attributed Spencer's behavior at the time 
of his arrest and afterwards in the Springfield jail, to 
acting with the deliberate object of establishing the de- 
fense of insanity, and said that the District Attorney 
sent for Dr. Houston because he knew, even at that 
early date, that the defense would be insanity. He 
continued his argument on this line, stating that toward 
spring Spencer believed he had convinced the Bridge- 


water authorities and Dr. Briggs of his insanity, and 
that he relaxed his efforts that he might go out and 
play baseball and enjoy the "garden where the flowers 
were springing up"; and that his behavior at that time 
became so normal that Dr. Elliott changed his opinion 
as to his mental condition. Dr. Elliott is beginning 
to wake up — "no evidence of delusions or hallucina- 
tions which modify his actions." That is in May; now 
in June he says: "Spencer is in splendid physical con- 
dition, eats and sleeps well, does some little work in 
our garden, and enters with zest into the amusements 
and sports of the hospital." Mr. Swift continued: 
"The prisoner wants you to send him back to Bridge- 
water, to enter with zest into playing baseball and foot- 
ball." (Continuing to quote from Dr. Elliott's re- 
ports) "He has not at any time manifested delusions 
or hallucinations, and under the ordinary precaution 
and restraint of hospital life, has not shown suicidal 
tendencies. That is June 19th."* 

Mr. Swaft continued to quote Dr. Elliott's later opin- 
ions to prove that he was at last "waking up." How 
absurd it would be if a group of men, such as the va- 
rious experts who had examined Spencer and including 
Dr. Elliott whose entire work was with the criminal 
insane, had been for eight months deceived by a mere 
malingerer — and a mentally defective malingerer at 
that! Such an aspersion was an insult to the medical 
profession. Mr. Swift proceeded to challenge my own 
testimony, on the ground that the wife had not been 
called to corroborate the prisoner's statements to me, 

• Anyone familiar with our hospitals for the insane can tell us that 
there are a great many patients, undoubtedly insane, who have no delusions 
or hallucinations nor show suicidal or homicidal tendencies; and the 
experts who declared Spencer insane made no claim that he had showed 
suicidal tendencies for years past. 


and he dwelt at some length upon the vagueness of the 
term ''mental defective." Perhaps today we should be 
able to give a somewhat more definite classification 
than "mental defective" or "high grade imbecile" to 
such a case as Spencer's, but it is doubtful whether it 
would influence an average jury at a time of such 
popular clamor and indignation. Mental tests were 
not then in common use, but it is doubtful whether 
Spencer's mentality, under such psychological tests as 
were given the men who entered the Army in our late 
War, would have rated at more than ten to twelve 
years; and it is certain that he could not have passed 
the psychiatric examination given at Camp Devens. 
Mr. Swift's arguments were indeed ably presented, 
and they prevailed with the jury, not because they 
were sound but because the ableness with which they 
were presented disguised their weakness — at least to 
the lay mind. There is little doubt that the natural 
trend of the minds of the jurymen was in sympathy 
with the popular clamor. 

Judge Crosby's charge to the jury was most able and 
scholarly — so scholarly in the choice of legal defini- 
tions offered that it would require a juryman of unusual 
education and mental ability to appreciate it. After 
explaining the meaning of "burglary," of "murder in 
the first degree," of "premeditation," and of "malice 
aforethought," he said: 

The Commonwealth contends in this case, as I understand it, that 
the prisoner is guilty upon two grounds mentioned in the statute, 
namely, first because the homicide was committed with deliberately 
premeditated malice aforethought; and secondly because it was 
committed while the prisoner was in the commission of, or in the 
attempt to commit, a crime punishable by imprisonment for life. 
If, therefore, the charge be proved to be upon both grounds or upon 


either ground with the certainty required by law — that is, beyond a 
reasonable doubt, it would constitute murder in the first degree. 

He then went on to explain that ''beyond a reasonable 
doubt" referred not at all to the facts presented, but to 
facts necessary to establish the conclusion of guilt. He 
quoted in the language of '*a former Chief Justice" in 
a charge which he made in a capital case: 

The prisoner's right to hold the Government to this strictness of 
proof is an absolute right. No consideration of public safety, no 
righteous indignation, at an atrocious crime which shocked the com- 
munity, no zeal for the suppression of crime, can give the court or 
jury discretion to relax the rules of law, or to strain the evidence 
to any conclusion not warranted by its fair, convincing force. The 
government of this Commonwealth is a government of laws and not 
of men. . . . 

He cited another charge, made by Chief Justice 
Gray, in regard to expert testimony, and concluding 

In this case it is for you ... to say whether this defendant was 
of sound or unsound mind ; that is to say, he was of unsound mind so 
far as this particular case is concerned. What you are dealing with 
here is the question of soundness or unsoundness as affects the de- 
fendant's responsibility' for the homicide; not whether he might or 
might not be responsible in any other respect. 

Among other points brought out in Judge Crosby's 
charge to the jury were the following: 

If you should find that the prisoner's mind was in such a dis- 
eased state that the fatal act must be regarded as an outbreak or 
paroxysm of a mind diseased, which for the time being overwhelmed 
his will and his reason so that there was an uncontrollable impulse, 
springing from disease, to do the act, then he is not to be considered 
as a responsible, accountable agent, though he may have been aware 
that the act which he was committing was wrong; that is to say, an 
irresistible homicidal impulse in an insane person, springing from a 
diseased mind, is a good defense, though such person knew that the 
act was wrong. 

Referring to mental defectiveness, he said: 


There is evidence to show that there are different classes or de- 
grees of such mental defectiveness. Such a person I understand to 
be one who is not an idiot, but one who suffers from want of mind 
rather than from derangement or delusion. If such a person is 
charged with a criminal offense, his liability or responsibility therefor 
would depend upon the question whether the want of mind is such 
as to entitle him to acquittal on the ground of insanity. . . . Two 
questions, therefore, seem to present themselves to you upon this 
branch of the case: first, whether or not the prisoner was laboring 
under an irresistible, homicidal impulse at the time when the fatal 
shot was fired ; and secondly, if he was not laboring under such an 
impulse, was there such a degree of mental disease or insanity as to 
make him unable to distinguish between right and wrong so as to 
exempt him from responsibility for his act. 

Judge Crosby here quoted another "distinguished 
judge" in much the same vein: 

And it is a general rule of law that, in order to be able to commit 
a crime, a person who is charged with its commission must have in- 
telligence and capacity enough to have a criminal intent and purpose. 
At any rate, when the charge is of the commission of such a crime as 
this, if he were not capable of a criminal intent and purpose in what 
he did, then he can not have been guilty of a crime in doing what he 
did. If his reason and his mental powers were either so deficient 
that he had no will and no conscience, no controlling mental powers, 
or if, through the overwhelming power of mental disease his intel- 
lectual power was for the time obliterated, then he was not a re- 
sponsible moral agent, and is not answerable for criminal acts . . . 
concluding, If his mind was from mental disease in such a state that 
he could not distinguish between right and wrong, or if he was a 
victim of an uncontrollable impulse to do wrong, though he knew it 
to be wrong, so that he could not refrain from it — if his will was 
overpowered and his conscience was overpowered, and what his hand 
did was not really his act, why then he is not to be held responsible 
for it. But if he did have that power and if he did act when he was 
able to control himself, so far as mental disease is concerned, why 
then he would be responsible. 

If you should find the prisoner's mind was impaired, said Judge 
Crosby, although not impaired to an extent that you feel at liberty 
to hold that he is not responsible for his acts, still, if his mind was 
so far impaired that in consequence of such impairment you find that 
he was not capable of deliberate premeditation, you would properly 
find a verdict of murder in the second degree. 

Unless you should find that he was accountable when he committed 


the murder, and committed it while in the commission of, or an at- 
tempt to commit, an offense punishable by imprisonment in the State's 
Prison for life, — if the evidence leads you to that conclusion, then he 
would be guilty of murder in the first degree, although committed 
without deliberate premeditation, provided, as I said before, you 
found he w^as responsible for his act. 

If you should find that he committed the act, but are satisfied upon 
the evidence that he was insane at the time, then it would be your 
duty to return a verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity." 

In this case no suggestion has been made in the argument that 
there is any evidence to support a verdict of manslaughter, and so it 
will not be necessary to dwell upon that phase of the case. 

If you are satisfied, according to the rules of law that have been 
laid down to you, that the prisoner, being an accountable person for 
his acts, committed the crime of murder in the first degree, it is your 
duty to find so upon your oaths. 

If you are not satisfied that, at the time the homicide was com- 
mitted, the prisoner acted with deliberate premeditation, and are 
not satisfied that he killed the deceased while in the commission of 
an offense punishable by imprisonment in the State Prison for life, 
but still consider him accountable when the homicide was com- 
mitted, then it will be your duty to find him guilty of murder in the 
second degree. If you are not satisfied that he was of sound mind, it 
will be your duty to bring in a verdict of "not guilt}' by reason of 
insanity." Of course, gentlemen, it is within your province to acquit 
him altogether, but that is not suggested by his counsel, and as there 
seems to be no aspect of the case in which that can be presented, I 
shall say nothing to you about it. . . . 

Mr. Stapleton excepted ''to so much of the charge 
in regard to insanity as permits the jury to take into 
account the presumption of sanity, after evidence has 
been introduced of the defendant's insanity, arriving 
at a conclusion as to sanity or insanity." 

The jury retired at 9.50 P. M., but returned at 1.55 
A. M. for instructions on three questions: 

1. If a man breaks and enters a house with burglarious intent 
and is caught and found guilty, is his crime punishable by life im- 

2. Is it the privilege of this jury to bring in a verdict of guilty 
in the first degree, of guilty in the second degree, and of acquittal on 
the ground of insanity ? 

3. What is the testimony in regard to entering window? 


The judge answered these questions at length, the 
first two in the affirmative within the limits of legal 
phraseology. The testimony in regard to the window 
was again read. 

The jury again retired at 2.52 A. M., and at 3.08 
A. M. rendered a verdict of murder in the first degree. 
The court adjourned at 3.1 1. 

The trial cost the state between $25,000 and $30,000. 
The defense was obliged to raise money among rela- 
tives and friends of the prisoner, and at times the de- 
fendant's wife sat at a typewriter in Attorney Staple- 
ton's office, copying manuscript for use at the trial, 
especially on the closing arguments on behalf of her 

Following the trial, efforts were made for commuta- 
tion, also for a new trial. The chances for a new trial 
were very remote, for Mr. Stapleton said the only 
capital case he could recall in which a new trial had 
been granted was the Trefethan case, in 1892. The 
chances for commutation were lessened on account of 
the unusual conditions at that time: there were three 
cases up for commutation, the Phelps, the Richeson 
and the Spencer cases, and a member of the Governor's 
Council expressed the feeling that if they commuted 
one they should commute all three, "which," he said, 
''would practically abolish capital punishment." 

The hearing on the motion for a new trial was held 
before the Hon. John C. Crosby, Justice, December 
26th, 191 1. In his argument, Mr. Stapleton said: 

I contend, may it please your Honor, that the courts of the State 
regard not the word which is used, whether it be "mentally defective" 
or "insane"; that the Commonwealth can not prevail over a defense 
of insanity by simply producing experts who will not use the word 
"insane," and will hide behind the words "mentally defective." . . . 


Dr. Fuller, of the State Board of Insanity, an expert called in 
behalf of the State, said that any child of five years old knew right 
from wrong — that any child of four or five years old knew, to that 
extent that he would be punished, right from wrong; that to that 
extent he knew the consequences of his act. He said that the knowl- 
edge of right and wrong of a high grade imbecile was similar to that 
of a child.* 

How could a jury say that this man, who six men employed by the 
State — not by the defense — who six men said was mentally defective 
— how could they say that he was fully responsible if they regarded 
this evidence? It is true that your Honor told the jury that the 
court instructed the jury that, as a matter of law, they might disre- 
gard expert testimony. . . . The jury technically were at liberty 
to disregard that evidence. They could not be compelled to accept 
it, but may it please your Honor, if the jury should go so far as to 
disregard the evidence of six experts employed by the state, reinforced 
by the testimony of three employed by the defense . . . the court, in 
its high discretion, could call a new jury in the case, who would give 
some consideration to the evidence in a matter involving life and 

Mr. Stapleton then went on to point out the inac- 
curacies in the Attorney General's address to the jury: 

And I think, may it please your Honor, that the court remarked 
that — and ruled that — it was not evidence that Spencer was faking 
when Dr. Hooker testified that he said to the defendant, "Spencer, 
you are faking." 

The answer to Mr. Stapleton's argument by Mr. 
Callahan was brief, and brought out no new facts. The 
motion for a new trial was denied on January 3rd, 191 1. 

On March 12th, 1912, another hearing was granted 
on another motion for a new trial, before the Hon. 

* Dr. Fuller testified that institutions for the insane might deal with 
individuals by refusing them certain privileges, such as being allowed to 
go out in the yard or being furnished with tobacco, if they did not behave 
themselves or were violent, and that in some cases such discipline helped in 
the government of the insane. He also testified that "mental defective" and 
"high grade imbecile" are synonymous terms, that is, that mental defective- 
ness includes the high grade imbecile. He said that there were a great 
many mental defectives at Bridgewater, and that part of his own duties 
consisted in the investigation of complaints and interviewing insane 


John C. Crosby, Justice, — this time on the ground of 
newly discovered evidence to prove that the State's 
Prison witness, St. John, alias Bell, had perjured him- 
self, according to the evidence and affidavits of four of 
his companions in prison. Attorney Stapleton said in 
his argument that he offered the evidence of three wit- 
nesses that Bell had told them before and since the trial 
that he had an object in making the statements which 
he made, which was to accomplish his own liberation; 
that the testimony which he had given was not true, 
but was manufactured by him to accomplish that end; 
that he had also told them, in giving excuses for this 
act of his, of a personal motive in the nature of a 
grudge or personal dislike which he entertained for 
Spencer, and that he had said that the doctors of the 
institution held out an inducement to him, and that he 
would send his own mother to the chair to get out of 
State's Prison. 

Mr. Callahan submitted an affidavit from St. John, 
alias Bell, denying, categorically, all the statements 
made about him by his mates at the State's Prison. 
The Warden of the Prison also deposed that the three 
men whose affidavits had been submitted by Mr. 
Stapleton had refused afterwards to be questioned by 
Mr. Callahan. 

Judge Crosby denied the motion for a new trial. 
Bills of exception were filed and allowed, and were 
later argued in the Supreme Judicial Court, on May 
23rd, and on June 22nd, 191 2, a decision was rendered 
overruling the exceptions. 

On July 2nd, 191 2, Spencer was sentenced to death 
during the week beginning September 15th. He heard 
his fate, as the Springfield Republican said, ^'without 


quivering an eyelash," and betrayed no emotion what- 

After the trial Mrs. Bertram G. Spencer, the wife, 
moved to Worcester, where she lived under her maiden 
name, Minnie Amberg. In an interview* given to the 
Boston American in June, 191 2, she said that Bert had 
always been a good husband to her and that she "loved 
him with all her heart" ; that they had been "gloriously 
happy together." She said it had been a case of love 
at first sight. She was now twenty-two years old and 
had married him when only seventeen. There had 
been two children born to them; the second had died 
five days after the father's arrest. The older boy, three 
and a half years old at the time of the interview, had 
been named for his father. Mrs. Spencer said that she 
was then writing to her husband at least twice a week, 
and he to her as often. 

The letters written by Bertram after his trial are 
significant of his naturally gentle, suggestible disposi- 
tion, his extreme excitability and his instability. Under 
date of December 26th, 191 1, he wrote from 79 York 
Street, Springfield, the York Street Jail, a letter of 
appreciation for what I had been able to do for him at 
the trial, saying: 

... I thought, Dr. Briggs, from my boyhood up I knew what 
sorrow was and untold suffering meant, but I was mistaken. Not 
till I was arrested for the awful crime that I had committed by taking 
a poor, innocent girl's life, shooting another woman and a motorman, 
assault on two women, stealing all my life and losing my home and 
loved ones, did I begin to realize what a terrible life I had been liv- 
ing. What can be the cause, Doctor, other than my early home life 
and environment? My ideals in life have aimed at the highest, but 
I was weak — oh, so weak! and why I can not understand. I never 
gjTipkecJ) chpwed, drank, used any drug — never went into but one 


house of prostitution, and then only by a French fellow at about 
fourteen years of age — never since — never picked up any women on 
the street, never went in bad company, never gambled or spent my 
money foolishly, never read any dime novels or trashy literature in my 
life, and I honestly thought I was above the average, yet I am a 
disgrace to my country, my dear mother, wife, child, all my loved 
ones, and condemned to die a dishonorable death. What more can 
a man suffer than all these terrible things staring him in the face? 
The papers say I have no heart — I am cold and indifferent. It's a 
lie. Doctor. No one has ever heard me say but what I was a most 
sorry person ever lived, and if I could only die an honorable death I 
would gladly face a thousand guns or electric chairs — and if I die 
for this awful affair I am helpless of, I am a disgrace to all my loved 
ones and the world! May God and Man help me to rise above it! 
... I remain, 

Your humble servant, 

Bertram Gager Spencer. 

On Thursday, January nth, 1912, I received a letter 
very similar to those sent to six or seven other people, 
and which the officers of the jail thought to be the result 
of a fit of jealousy and anger against his wife, about 
whom some of the other men in the jail had been 
plaguing him because they found he was susceptible to 
teasing. Up to this time he had, apparently, been on 
the most excellent terms with his wife, sending her fre- 
quent messages of tender affection. I quote from this 
letter the following — a good deal of it is unprintable : 

Doctor, lack of education, driven from home by my father's 
abusive treatment. ... I never stole but two things in my life till I 
met my wife, and Doctor, since I met her, everything in my life's 
changed. A jack-knife in Lebanon was true, and a revolver in Cali- 
fornia — for I was always fond of shooting and it lay in the Armory 
in Oakland, where I was a member of Co. F., N.G. of Cal., and I 
asked the price and found I should have to pay $i8, and knowing 
the Government furnished them to all the officers, I took it, fully 
intending to replace it before I came east, but I never gave it another 
thought till I was packing my trunk for the east, and it was too 
late to go then, so I kept it, and it was the one I shot poor, defense- 
less Miss Blackstone, Miss Dow and Mike Gilhooley. Dr., when 


I met my wife I fell head over heels in love — why I can not say. . . . 
I was engaged to a wealthy young lady in Greenfield. . . . 

He then describes his precipitate courtship and 
marriage and some of the events of his married life, in 
which he mentions intimate details and blames his wife 
for all his misdeeds since his marriage, even accusing 
her of stealing also. He says: 

She sold all the household furnishings after my arrest, such as 
piano, beds, chairs, bureau, sideboard, pictures, two couches, dining 
table and center table — got $130, she says, for all. ... I will suffer 
it all alone, Dr. Briggs, for in time her sins will find her out, and 
(she) will know how I am suffering, and will, long as I live, and 
when you sent me the best Christmas box of goodies I ever had in my 
life, I know, Dr., you were my true friend, guide and councillor 
hereafter. If I could only show you and Gov. Foss that I have 
plenty of good, pure blood in my veins, and with study and a little 
encouragement I will show the world that I am not what you all 
think I am — a heartless murderer and thief — no, by far, no — and if 
I was a free man tomorrow, not a single wrong would I commit. A 
woman has been my downfall, and thousands of others, I presume. 
... I made friends wherever I went with my musical talent, both 
vocal and instrumental, which I inherited. If I had of had an edu- 
cation, I know I should have been an honor to my country and loved 
ones, and if I am spared, I will show you and the World what's 
beneath my skull-cap. And, again referring to his wife, he says; 
. , . Not one cent. Dr., has she given me since my arrest — and earn- 
ing $12 every week. She only came once to see me at Bridgewater, 
after the first day, when Mother and she came, and the last time I 
had to pay her fare both waj^s. When she comes to Springfield, she 
is allowed to come and see me any day, Sunday and all, and stay as 
long as she likes, as I now have an outside guard day and night. 
She came to Springfield the Saturday night before Christmas and 
stayed at her home till Monday night, and all the time she spent with 
me was four hours and six minutes, in three nights and two days, and 
my Christmas and New Year's presents consisted of two 25c. pairs 
of brown socks — not a love token of any kind, not even a card. . . . 
I made her, out of red ribbon, a pretty fringed book-mark, and 
printed in gold leaf from Bert to Minnie — Christmas 1911-1912; also 
an account book in red leather with her full maiden name on the 
fly-leaf. I printed her some appropriate verses inside and gave her 
twelve copies of the Boston Sunday Post, with a story, "The Money 
Moon" in it, which I have saved along a week at a time, as she likes 


to read such things; and I gave her a good-sized piece of everything 
you sent me and ahnost half of the chicken Mother sent me — and, if 
you believe me, she has not as much as thanked me — and I have sent 
her drawings that it took me just one and a half weeks to finish, 
and not a thank you. Does my heart ache. Well, Dr., I can hardly 
believe my own mind, sometimes, to think what a fool, what a fool. 
And she believes she is fooling me every day, and I am keeping it all 
to myself. Say, Dr., if my cousin in Cal. will send me $15, can I 
hire a detective for one week to give me further proof of what I 
would like to know? 

He then branches off on a tirade about the light sen- 
tences of some men in jail, compared with the heavy 
sentences of others, and then speaks of how kind the 
officials are to him and what comfortable quarters he 
had, and winds up his letter with expressions of sorrow 
for his sister, who was apparently ill at the time he was 

On Jan. 4th, 191 2, he wrote a long letter to his wife, 
of which he sent me a copy enclosed in a letter to me, 
in which he says : 

You do not know how deeply repentant I am for taking a poor, 
innocent girl's life, or ever wronging a single soul on this beautiful 
earth. God has put so much beauty in both winter and summer for 
us all! No one will ever know how I am suffering for my wrong, 
wrong acts, and if truly penitent prayers offered to God will forgive 
my terrible acts, my praj^ers will and have been heard. Yesterday 
I asked Him to guide and direct my thoughts to write a last farewell 
letter to the woman I have and do so dearly love, and enclosed you 
will find a true copy of the letter I sent this morning to her. As a 
man, I have taken the step of helping her to be truthful instead of 
deceitful, and to be a free w'oman and do that which is upright and 

The enclosure is as follows: 

My dear Wife : 

Your loving letter of 721 words came Friday night, Jan. I2th, 
and it was certainly good of you to think enough of me after keeping 
me waiting a whole week with all your busy evenings to write such 
a lengthy letter, and though you did not answer all my questions, I 


suppose you will by another week, if not too busy. I know you con- 
sider nie demonstrative, Minnie, but you and others know every word, 
every gift and sentence is from the depths of a heart and brain that 
only worshipped and idolized your every word, good or bad, and 
have always hungered after your words of love and cheer, longingly 
watched every mail for a true, loving, devoted wife's affections, either 
by letter or a postal or just a paper, or when you come here to see some 
signs of that affection that is bound to be demonstrative if there 
is one spark of true love burning in that heart of yours. Write what 
you will, say what you are amind to on paper, but actions speak 
louder than words by mouth or on paper. Minnie, I am no fool, 
and if you think I am blind or others are blind, you are wrong, way 
wrong, dear, and some day, some place, it will all come back to you 
like a moving picture. One doesn't have to live in jail or in palaces 
to find out who and what a true, loving and faithful wife means. I 
want you, Minnie, if you love any part of my feelings, to get a 
divorce, and you can by just the asking, as I am an outcast from 
society and home life, and what little time or long time, don't I 
pray, make it any harder for me to bear. I have thought and thought, 
as I am spending my last few months, I can not have this deceit- 
fulness staring me in the face, and Minnie dear with (not one speck 
of hate) only true, manly love for the mother of my darling boy and 
you I wish to sever all loving ties from this day and forevermore, 
and from this day to the day I die never write or speak my name, 
and in the following mail or express you will receive everything that 
belongs to you or can recall our lives together. Now don't say I am 
mad, cranky or in any way hasty, dear, for I have been making up 
my mind ever since I heard of the "Spea" aflfair, and everj^ day your 
heartless words and actions coming from you in various waj^s and 
nothing like it before I was arrested. From today on, as since my 
arrest, you are welcome to use 3^our maiden name, go to concerts, 
theaters, parties, wherever and with whom you choose, early or 
late, and you will find pleasure in so doing as in the past. Do not 
come to Springfield to see me on any matters, or write or send any- 
thing by any one, or through the mail, for tomorrow morning I shall 
give orders to Mr. Wade and Sheriff Clark to remail all letters or 
articles hereafter coming from you in any form or to admit you if 
you come here to call. Your father and all your people have taken 
the {let me alone side^ too) even when he came as far as the jail 
door he couldn't even come in, and say one word. When I sent for 
a coat by you, you sent me your father's old coat, so full of holes and 
dirty, for me to wear up into court. When outsiders notice and 
speak of these things, I surely ought to. I have been in confinement 
almost two years, and in all that time I have not received out of the 
$130 you received for my furniture you sold, with over $50 in the 
bank and $12 a week while at the Norton Co. in Worcester, a single 


penny or offer of such. Not a love token of any kind or a gift as 
such. The locket I have worn around my neck with your picture and 
my boy's I had to beg for. The rings you have you only wear when 
you come here to see me. Spend three nights and two days in Spring- 
field over Christmas, and get down here late in the afternoon, and 
only spend from 3.40 to 6 P.M. one day, and the last day from 
3.45 to 5.30, in all four hours and five minutes, and left me two pairs 
of woolen socks, which I also return for I really think and truly 
think they were begrudged me. I have given you all I could (and 
more than I did the dear loving mother who bore and will die for 
me) Christmas, yet not a flower I painted for her, as I did for you, 
has she forgot to love, cherish, and mention, and every picture, flower 
or gift I have ever sent her. Do you call that demonstrative dear? 
No, Minnie, it's true, true love. I have always longingly looked 
for from you and by you and whoever you get for a future partner 
I pray you to love him as a true, loving wife should do, and which I 
have hoped and longed for all in vain. It is most sad sad for me to 
part from you thus, but to keep on Minnie only causes me day after 
days fretting and worrying. I want to live right from this day hence- 
forth, and I want j'ou to do the same for God's and Baby's sake, if 
not for mine. We both have sinned, and I have asked God's full 
forgiveness and to forgive you and all your past sins and he has mine 
and I hope you place yourself in his care. I have asked his guidance 
this day in writing this letter, and if I have said one word that 
seems wrong, I ask your forgiveness in full. Wishing Minnie you 
God's speed in all your future undertakings and from this day to 
live an upright, law-abiding and God-fearing and loving mother, is 
the earnest prayer of your loving husband. 

P. S. Please return the beaded belt to Mother, as I gave it to 
her when I came east, and also all my things that personally belonged 
to me, like watch, pins, chain, razor and outfit, etc. 

Bertram Gager Spencer. 

P. P. S. Minnie, as a last wish I beg you to leave Mother bring 
up and be guardian and teacher over our darling boy, as you are not 
in a position to do so, also to provide for him, in as much as you can 
till he is old enough to look after Bertram Herman. 

Under date of January 28th, 191 2, shortly after the 
motion for a new trial had been denied by Judge 
Crosby, Spencer wrote me: 

Anything you place in my hands to study, I will leave not one 
stone unturned to accomplish that purpose. My ambition was never 
so great, and as Shakespeare says Take the instant way; for honor 
travels in a straight so narrow, where one but goes abreast ; keep then 


the path; For emulation hath a thousand sons, That one by one pur- 
sue; if you give way or hedge aside from the direct forthright, Like 
to an entered tide, they all rush by and leave you hindmost. I do so 
appreciate your offer of a magazine now and then, which would be 
allowed me of course — anything of that kind always is — but there is 
no need of saying and I pray you will pardon any seeming lack of 
courteousness on my part when I request only the best you have, as 
I have never read fiction of any kind in my life and I will not today. 
... I am looking for an appropriate design to print, with flower 
emblem, for my dear mother's birthday, and though very old, I have 
decided on "Rock me to sleep" for one. 

On Feb. 25th, 191 2, he writes: 

You of course do not know that my wife and my father were pass- 
ing love letters back and forth unbeknown to me, until I was informed 
of it a short time ago, after it had been going on for six months or 

There is an account of Spencer's having twice at- 
tempted suicide at the Hampden County Jail, first by 
putting his head through the glass window and at- 
tempting to cut his throat on the jagged edges of the 
window pane, and later by swallowing a spoonful of 
broken glass. On April 22nd, 191 2, he writes: 

I have been sick and utterly discouraged for three weeks, I will 
explain the best I can. You know I sent all my wife's things back to 
her and tried to forget her entirely, as I knew if I kept dwelling on 
my past five years with her and her actions, I should go mad, but I 
couldn't keep it from me, try as I would. The i8th of March was 
her 22nd birthday and we had been married just four years, so I sent 
her a painting in water colors of red and pink roses, with a verse in 
print and Loving Greetings, also a letter which Mr. Stapleton ad- 
vised me to write, as she had been twice in Springfield and not come 
near me. ... So I wrote her as long as she demanded an apology, 
I was perfectly willing to apologise to this extent — if I have said or 
written one word that was not the whole truth %\-ord for word, I 
would willingly on my knees ask before anyone her forgiveness. . . . 
Well, Dr., I got brooding over this and much more that I will not 
worry you about. My dear mother and darling boy near death's 
door, my sister and brother-in-law all down home — not a friend or 
kin to come and see me and to continually think of the awful crime 


I committed two years ago the 31st of last March, and how weak I 
have been, and I had my cr}ing spells right along and there was a 
week I could not retain anything on my stomach, and then and up 
to now I am eating nothing but milk and bread, which is of the 
best — and all these thoughts have been piling up, up, till I only 
thought of ending it all, so one week ago, Thursday, March 21st, I 
took a big tablespoonful of broken glass, fully expecting to be dead 
Friday. But Sunday came and I was still crying, and my troubles 
overcame me again, and I dove through the window, trying to cut 
my throat, but as usual I was unsuccessful and only slightly cut my 
head and ears, which is all healed now. Of course they put my hands 
in muffs for three days, which I suppose I deserved, and I stayed 
in bed five days. . . . Prison life is an awful life at its very best, and 
when I hear of men, boys and women coming back to such places, I 
think there is something decidedly wrong with their upper story. 

April 30th, 1912: 

I have had and am still having a hard siege of blues, and try as 
I may I can not fight it off, I am still taking bromide, and I am 
trying to sleep my troubles off, and it is especially such dreary weather 
— also drink three quarts of milk daily. And again referring to his 
wife he says, I do not have to have a door fall on me to know she has 
been deceiving me right and left. Did I write you she made a date 
with my own father to meet him at New Haven and go to Danbury 
Fair together while I was at Bridgewater? Don't you think she's 
pretty foxy? ... I do not care to live any longer. Death in any 
form or shape will be most welcome for I am no longer a source of 
income to my family — not one bit of comfort to them or myself. 

On May 27th, after thanking me for some books that 
I sent him, he wrote: 

I shall never ask you but just one favor, which is a big one; know- 
ing as I do of the decision that will be rendered in a few days or 
weeks, and the outcome of this farce, as I look at it, I can not prove 
in any way that my wife is not a capable person to have the bring- 
ing up of my darling boy, so I beg of you in some way to see that 
justice is done, if there is such a thing. There is much underhand 
work being going on these last six months, and I know if you hear 
from my lips what pen can not express or explain, you will begin to 
think. . . . You don't know how glad and happy I feel when I can 
do for some other poor unfortunate. I sent a dollar today to my 
wife's sister to buy a wreath of flowers and place on my wife's 
mother's grave for Minnie and I. Just think, there was never a 


tombstone or anything to mark the resting place of my wife's mother, 
so four years ago I set out a red rose bush, because I loved the mother 
of my wife, yet had never seen her. Minnie or her father never 
thought enough of her mother to even go there Decoration Day and 
place a few tokens of love for the one who had loved, suffered and 
died for them. As I sit here day after day, evening after evening, 
I can see through it all now. Dr., and I wonder why it was so. I 
have written my wife 8 or 9 letters and sent her an Easter card, and 
no reply to any of them except one card. 

On June 14th I received a letter from Spencer's 
mother, of which the following is an extract: 

I have just returned from Springfield, where I went last week on 
Friday with the little boy, who has not seen his father in a long time. 
I found Bertram ver}' nervous, and he is sure the officials are all con- 
spiring against him, also his wife and Mr. Stapleton. During the 
two and a half days I spent with him, there was scarce fifteen min- 
utes but that the boy was raving over some fancied injury. . . . 

About the end of May or the first of June some of 
his letters were written in a more or less tremulous 
hand, showing great emotion, especially when speaking 
of his wife. The change from irritability and extreme 
excitability at every noise and annoyance came only 
after he had embraced the Christian Science faith. 
This was brought about through the influence of one of 
his guards, who was strongly of that faith, and who not 
only brought books for Spencer to read which, with his 
susceptible nature, at once gave him comfort, but this 
guard interested a Christian Science reader, who 
visited Spencer immediately, comforting him and ad- 
ministering his doctrines to him up to the time of his 
death. It is a pity that suggestions of this nature were 
not brought into his life earlier, as his history shows 
that his actions were, to a great extent, the result of 
suggestion. Especially was this true when he changed 
from his occasional petty larcenies to house-breaking, 



"^ a 



Part of letter written by Spencer, May 28, 1912, showing effect of 
emotional thoughts when referring to his wife at this time. 


on the suggestion given him through the report of the 
arrest of another Bertram Spencer for burglary, which 
the history of his life shows to have impressed him at 
this time very deeply. And again, in Bridgewater, it 
was evidently at the suggestion of the other inmates 
that he attempted to correct their wrongs, both real and 
fancied, especially the physical abuses which he had 
seen or of which he had seen the results. 

The first letter in which I find any mention of Chris- 
tian Science is dated June 26th, 191 2, when he wrote: 

Say, Dr., did you ever read "Science and Health" and compare it 
to the Bible? There are so many things in it that have already helped 
me to overcome, that I am already beginning to think it is only too 
true. Please do not evade this question like you do. Dr., in my 
other letters. Don't get provoked, now, for I only speak from a 
pure motive, and when I stop to think of it, of course you don't be- 
lieve such a belief — but of course I am all the time thinking of my 
wife, my boy, my mother and crime, and I am at a loss to find just 
why everything came to pass as it has. God knows I hold no ani- 
mosity toward a single soul in this world, neither did I before m^' 
arrest, except to my father, and today I forgive him. I have made 
oh! so many mistakes in my life, but none (leaving murder out alto- 
gether) like since I came to Springfield. 

On July 6th, 19 12, he makes his first reference to 
Mr. Perkins, the Christian Science reader, who stood 
by him to the end. It is a pleasure to recount this good 
man's devotion to a poor, condemned criminal, espe- 
cially as later the papers were so full of mercenary 
transactions by people of his cult. Bertram writes: 

I am making a thorough study of "Science and Health." All of 
these articles help me to get goodness out of life. Why is this not 
taken up more by Christian loving people, and those who care to be 
healed of all kinds of diseases? I have been taking bromide for my 
stomach trouble and I kept having those pains in my head and around 
my heart — could not sleep without the room being darkened, was so 
nervous at even the rattle of a paper, I would often want to scream, 
and last of all and most important is that my temper has left me 


like magic, and when I hold revenge toward those who have wronged 
others, my folks and myself, I can now forgive and pity them, for 
they know not what they do or say, and neither did I until Christian 
Science was read to me by one of my guards who is a Christian 
Scientist. There has been a practitioner here for over a week, almost 
ever)' other day, bringing me beautiful flowers sent to me by his wife. 
They own a nice home in Longmeadow of ten acres, and he has got 
God's love, through hope, stamped upon his countenance. 

I have spoken often to Mr. Perkins of you, telling him of your 
goodness. Do not think it strange if I do not speak of my sentence 
last Tuesday morning. I did so much want to say a few words of 
repentance and suffering for all of my sins and sickness, and to let 
people know I had tried to get permission from the time I was ar- 
rested till now to write a repentant letter to all those I have ever in 
any way wronged, and I have always been denied. . . . On June 
27th I wrote a forgiving letter to my wife, telling her to cheer up 
and look for every good thing. Minnie received it on Friday, and 
she sat right down and answered it — a letter of 1 1 pages, but not one 
word did she mention of forgiveness or my case in any way. This 
being the only letter I had received from her since January 12th last, 
and she has not been here since Dec. 24th, 191 1 ... I am writing 
her every other day now, but I get no answers, and I can now over- 
look the whole affair, for I know she is weak, and I am trj'ing to 
get her mind on facts instead of fiction. She writes she is reading 
now, more than ever, a story called "The Streets of Ascalon," by 
Robert W. Chambers. Of course it is a clean story, no doubt, but 
what or how can stories like that help to overcome all evil. As in 
the past, so shall I to the end try to get her mind to run in different 
channels. There is of course no use, Dr., of my trying to explain 
Mrs. Eddy's works to you, but her teachings are faith, hope and love. 

On July 8th, 191 2, he writes: 

I received my sentence of mortal death last Tuesday morning at 
about ten o'clock by Judge Crosby, and since I understand "Science 
and Health" I keep my thoughts away from all thought or error of 
mortal man, and for this reason I did not mention it to you or my 
folks, except on the very morning I went up to court I WTOte both my 
dear mother and wife to keep up good cheer, to think good and not to 
worry, for though mortals take my life in mortal sense, I still go 
into the great beyond forgiving each and all, just as Christ said 
"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." The love 
I hold for my wife today is so much different than four years ago — 
yes, four months ago — and my father, too. ... I will enclose a 
cutting. Dr., regarding my last appearance in court. You will notice 
where it speaks of "cold as an iceberg" — Think not of it, Dr., for 


my heart within me was almost bursting with sorrow to think of my 
past weaknesses which had caused me to face mortal revenge. ... I 
begged of my lawyer, Mr. Stapleton, to allow me to say a few re- 
pentant words and to say that I forgave fully and freely all those that 
had tried to injure me in any way in the eyes of the law, but he told 
me no — here at the jail and also again when I arrived at the court, 
so as you, mother and my brother advised me to do as Mr. Stapleton 
said and I complied all the way through and said nothing. ... I 
am trying to live as St. Paul lived when in prison — I have learned 
that whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content. 

On July 17th, 19 1 2, he writes: 

If the soul of this universe understood God as Mrs. Eddy teaches, 
there would be no prisons, jails or asylums, and the medical fraternity 
of medicine would not be in existence, only as Christ left it to be, 
healing through divine principle. God be praised that such a healing 
power was left, and through it all my sins and belief in sickness are 
departed, for I was believing in unreality, which is evil — of matter 
and not of God. I feared God as I feared my earthly father, and 
kept revenge boiling within me day and night, believing that both 
were the cause of my downfall, but today I find all was an idea that 
was driving me insane, and it's not my father or Heavenly Father, 
mother, God, but my own belief in mortal error, that was all within 
everyone that does not understand. My temper, moral weakness^ 
hate, revenge, crying spells, stomach troubles and headaches I have 
had for years, left me after a second treatment by a C. S. practitioner, 
and today I never felt more happy and contented, for I look upon 
everyone and everything with love, truth, life and understand that 
we in ourselves are simply nothing without understanding. 

On August 5th, 191 2, he wrote me immediately after 
a visit from his wife, during which he says she had 
admitted she had received "gentleman friends" in her 
room and had played for them; he again asks that a 
detective be employed to watch her and again accuses 
her of improper conduct with his father; and after 
stating a lot of things which to him mean deception on 
her part, he says: 

I want to know if these facts had not ought to be brought before 
the Governor and Council — not to do her one bit of harm, but to 
show them how easy for men to be misled by what I supposed to be 
a true and loving wife. ... I have no money, and in the mortal 


power of men who rank as Catholics, having no regard for the true 
state of affairs, just as I told Mr. Stapleton when he first took my 
case that I only wanted the truth in everything and my answer was, 
"They are not going to be fair." ... I did do as he said, and what 
more could I have gotten — all my wife's folks, or her stepmother and 
her folks, and my wife's uncle's folks are strong Catholics. Mr. 
Stapleton and Callahan both attend the same Catholic Church. . . . 
Mr. Stapleton said, sarcastically, "Stick close to Christian Science if 
it does you any good," the last time he called. Yes, it has done me 
a world of good, but the Pope prays three times each day for the 
destruction of Christian Science believers. I understand. Dr., that 
you have showed some of my past letters to Mr. Stapleton. I re- 
quest, Dr., you keep this to yourself. 

Following the above letter came one dated August 

Yesterday I sent you a letter putting forth my desires, but since I 
sent it I have had higher and better thoughts, and I say, "Let the dead 
bury their dead." Two wrongs can never make one right, and I do 
not want my wife's name defamed in or by one word. Yesterday I 
wanted to prove my statements, for the truth is always tlicre, and by 
stirring up evil we can not expect to reap goodness. So again I say, 
Dr., I don't want you to do one thing towards my wife's being 
found out or her name in any way brought before the Council. I 
would gladly shoulder any and all blame, and leave it for God's 
infinite love and goodness to adjust all wrongs. As long as I live I 
am going to overcome all evil by high, sound, clean thoughts, and 
place before those I love no words or action that may be the first 
step backward instead of forward. 

On August loth, 191 2, Spencer writes: 

... As I look at it now, it matters not, and the sooner these peo- 
ple who are thirsting for my heart's blood are satisfied to see the law 
carried out by taking my life, let them have it. Life here is nothing, 
and in five minutes it is all over. Why, if I couldn't suffer five 
minutes in the electric chair, when Christ suffered for hours, I 
wouldn't be much of a man. I am more anxious to go than to 
stay, believe me, and after I have been lied about on every hand and 
deceived by everybody, there is no pleasure among my fellow men. . . . 
I have left good seed behind, and "if they seek they shall find." . . . 
Don't say. Dr. Briggs, I am not appreciative of what is done for me. 
Oh, yes, I am, and you'll never know how much. There was a time 
when I longed to live, but "God" says He that loveth life more 
than me shall lose it. I am ready and anxious to see the great be- 


yond, for this kind of existence is only full of sorrow, and when 
everything goes wrong when I try to have right, I am far better 
off at rest. I do everything I know to bring cheer and comfort to 
my dear old mother, and I always said I hoped to die before she 
did because I loved her so. I send all the others cheer and comfort- 
ing words and I "hope" some day they will understand. 

On September 14th, the day before his execution, 
Spencer wrote me in a firm, even hand, without the 
underscorings so frequent in his previous letters: 

God speed the day when Love, Truth and Life Eternal shall be 
justice to all mortal minds, then divine mind will be uppermost and 
error will have no place in the Christ-like consciousness which is in 
all mankind, but ofttimes so smothered that there only seems to be all 

We are the image and likeness of God, how? Spiritually, hence 
perfect, and with this knowledge that Mr. Perkins has taught me 
through Christian Science, I see why mortal mind sweeps all man- 
kind off their feet without the higher understanding that God is 
Love, Truth and Life Eternal and sin, disease and death are all 
mortal beliefs hence powerless for God is of too pure eyes to behold 
evil which perishes with the flesh. 

My wife I have not heard from or seen since she left me at York 
St. Jail Sept. 1st and my wishes have been turned over to my dear 
human God loving mother. God will bless her. No human mother 
could have done more for her child than she has done for me, all her 
life, and I praise God for such a mother. May she find peace and 
comfort and rest her weary mortal sense in God's loving care, for 
he is here now and everywhere. 

God bless Gov, Foss and the Council. They have deprived me 
of mortal life and comfort to my family to the human sense, but 
they can not stop the continuance of God's Love and Truth and I 
would not exchange all worldly possessions for the knowledge of God 
gained through Christian Science, and it will continue for ever and 
ever, God be praised. 

Will close with loving kindness to you, yours, and all mankind 
through Christ Jesus. 

Bertram Gager Spencer. 

The Christian Science Journal published an article 
shortly after Spencer's execution, telling of the work 
accomplished by Christian Scientists, saying that 
ninety-eight convicts in the New Jersey State Peni- 


tentiary were Christian Scientists, and speaking espe- 
cially of the case of Spencer and another condemned 
criminal recently executed, who had died professing 
this faith. The Journal quoted a letter from Spencer's 
mother, as follows: 

In corroboration of my son's testimony, I would like to state that 
if there ever was an example of regeneration and "new birth" — the 
shaking off this mortal coil and the putting on of a new garment — 
such was made manifest in the great change which completely trans- 
formed my boy, mentally and physically, during the last three months 
of his existence on earth. 

Since early boyhood he had been afflicted at times with uncon- 
trolled outbursts of temper, which on several occasions were of such 
a violent nature that they seemed more like epileptic fits. He pos- 
sessed many sterling qualities of character, and to all outward ap- 
pearances was living an exemplary life, as far as habits and choice 
of associates might indicate. His love for "mother" was almost 
divine, and his ever-thoughtfulness, unselfishness and great-hearted 
love for mother was touching and pathetic. All others with whom 
the boy came in contact sooner or later became aware of a "veiled 
stranger," and while at times loving and with a desire to please, if 
opposed in any way he would suddenly change in manner, and some- 
times it would be two or three days before he would be himself 

His mental condition seemed more aggravated after passing 
through the San Francisco earthquake, where for a month he was 
on duty as a member of the National Guard of California, and his 
desire for excitement was even greater than before. Between the 
ages of seventeen and nineteen, he attempted suicide on two different 
occasions, and all efforts to make him understand right and wrong 
in its truest sense were of no avail. After his arrest in April, 1909, 
his mental and physical condition became worse — frequent outbreaks, 
also bodily ailments — stomach trouble, also severe pains at times over 
kidneys and violent headaches. In May, 1910, while in the Bridge- 
water institution, he attempted suicide, but failed in the undertaking. 
Again during his incarceration in Springfield, Mass., and in May, 
1912, he made two more attempts to end his life. It seemed to those 
in charge necessary to keep him under the influence of bromide given 
at frequent intervals, and as a light shining in his room at night 
could not be endured, a canopy was hung over the bed. The slight- 
est noise annoyed him, and he imagined all the officials were his 
enemies, when in reality they were doing all in their power to please 
him and make him comfortable. 


In this great distress of mind and bodily suffering, he was con- 
stantly reaching out and groping in the dark for some spiritual com- 
fort, but nothing seemed to bring peace of mind. Several kind- 
hearted ministers of one or more denominations visited him, each 
with the desire of pointing out the right road of salvation, but all 
the efforts on the part of my son to follow the admonition to "look 
to a higher power for forgiveness and trust in God" did not give 
him the right understanding, and still 'left him unsatisfied with him- 
self, as well as with God and man. In the early part of June, 1912, 
I visited him in Springfield, and found him more violent than I had 
ever seen him since his imprisonment, although there had been occa- 
sions previous to my visit when the combined strength of two men 
was required to hold him. One of the guards who had my son in 
charge was interested in Christian Science, and used to read him oc- 
casionally from "Science and Health" and other literature along this 
line. The attention of a Christian Science practitioner was brought 
to my son's need, and the great change and mental healing which 
came, gradual but sure, was a marvel to all who had him in charge. 
All bodily ailments disappeared, the bromide was discontinued, the 
canopy over the bed was removed, and no difficulty in sleeping was 
experienced, even though a bright light was streaming into his room. 

Words can never express my deep gratitude, not only for the 
benefit Christian Science has been to my departed boy, but to myself 
as well, and I fully believe that a new era is dawning when there 
will be an awakening, and facts which are demonstrable will prove 
to the world that Love, Truth and right understanding of God and 
the teachings of the Bible will do more toward raising suffering hu- 
manity toward a higher plane of civilization than capital punishment 
and the electric chair. 

The following letter was written by the prison 

Having been one of the guards of Bertram G. Spencer at the 
Hampden County Jail in Springfield, Mass., for over nine months, 
I had opportunity to observe his conduct both before and after he 
became interested in Christian Science; and I can truthfully say that 
the change wrought in him was very great indeed. He was benefited 
in all ways, the help he received and the interest in Christian Science 
enabling him to overcome many physical troubles. The change in 
disposition was also very marked. When I first became acquainted 
with him last November, he was in a very sad and despairing frame 
of mind, and continued in that condition until Christian Science was 
brought to his attention. . . , 



During Spencer's confinement in jail in Springfield 
I visited him, and just before his removal to Charles- 
town I spent quite a time with him, as he wished to 
show me what he was doing to prove to future genera- 
tions that he was not really a criminal. His idea of 
proving this was to select from books and papers any- 
thing that he thought was beautiful or that seemed to 
him to show a high development of mind and char- 
acter. He cut these extracts out or copied them most 
neatly, coloring the titles, and sometimes illustrating 
in colors the subjects of which they treated. His selec- 
tions were such as a child of from eight to twelve years 
old would naturally make, and the whole procedure of 
pasting them in books and the rearrangement was what 
a child of that age would be capable of doing. He had 
asked for and obtained a trunk, and into this trunk he 
had put this large collection, saying he was going to 
lock and seal the trunk and leave it to his boy, to be 
opened when the boy was sixteen years of age ; so that 
when they accused him of being the son of a murderer, 
he could show what a beautiful mind and what beauti- 
ful thoughts his father had. He had been given a small 
amount of money — I think only one dollar — and with 
it had purchased a second-hand hat from one of the 



jailers, and had also got from somewhere else some 
better clothing than that which he had when he entered 
the jail. When I arrived he was cleaning and "fixing 
up" his clothes, and he said, "I have got this nice hat 
and these nice clothes to wear when they take me to 
Charlestown, so that I shall make a good appearance." 
At that time efforts were being made to persuade the 
Governor to grant a commutation of sentence, and I 
told him that the Governor was very much worried 
over the situation. Spencer, who seemed very cheerful 
and happy over the childish work he was doing for his 
son, said, "Tell the Governor not to worry, but to 
cheer up. I am not worrying, so why should he?" 

On August 25th, Spencer's attorney, Mr. R. P. 
Stapleton, personally presented a petition for the com- 
mutation of Spencer's death sentence to Governor 
Foss. Mr. Stapleton said that at the end of eleven 
days, not having heard anything from the Governor's 
office, he telephoned to the office but could not learn 
that any petition had been placed on record there. 

On September 5th, 1912, Spencer was removed to 
the death cell in that part of the Charlestown State 
Prison known as Cherry Hill — and still no action of 
the Governor or Council on his petition. As I have 
before stated, Chester S. Jordan's petition for clemency 
was being considered at this time, and Clarence V. T. 
Richeson had been examined as to his sanity but a short 
time before. The crimes committed by these men had 
influenced the public mind, which had already been 
stirred by the long sensational reports in the papers of 
the Thaw trial and of the more recent case of the "gun 
men" in New York, whose trial was being held at 
about that time. 


On September 9th, broken in heart and spirit, Mrs. 
Spencer, the mother of Bertram, made a final appeal 
to Gov. Foss. For more than an hour she pleaded with 
the Governor, and when she left him he said, "I will 
give the matter my most careful consideration, and 
make known my decision Wednesday." She also 
visited various members of the Council and put her 
case before them. Mr. Stapleton suggested to the Gov- 
ernor that a board of alienists be appointed by the 
Chief Executive to pass upon Spencer's mental condi- 
tion, and asked for a respite of sixty days that he might 
present new evidence bearing upon Spencer's mental 
condition, in the form of several affidavits from persons 
who had had charge of him since his imprisonment, 
who deposed that Spencer was not sane. In the mean- 
time, when his mother visited him, Spencer appeared 
to be in the best of spirits, and she said, "Instead of my 
visits cheering him, it seemed as though he was cheer- 
ing me!" 

Governor Foss failed to refer Spencer's petition that 
his death sentence be commuted to life imprisonment 
to the Council. It was the mother who took this news 
to her son, and his comment was, *'I expected nothing 
different. Mother dear, and was prepared for the news 
you bring me. Don't worry about me. Mother dear; 
I am reconciled to my God and am ready to die." This 
was on September nth. During the morning, Mr. 
Stapleton had called on the Governor and presented 
new evidence he had procured. The Governor listened 
attentively, but held out no hope. Mrs. Spencer was 
also in the Executive room early in the morning before 
the Council met at 10.30, and personally interviewed 
Councillors Goetting and MacGregor. She told them 

^oj^ion J^^^^%. 

Designed, drawn and printed by Bertram G. Spencer after 
passing under the influence of Christian Science. 


she realized the hostility to her son in the western part 
of the state, but believed it to be due to the fact that 
the people did not understand his condition, and that 
if they knew, they would sympathize with him rather 
than hold resentment against him. She tried to see Gov- 
ernor Foss again, but he said that in view of the fact that 
he had already spoken with her about the case, he 
begged to be excused from giving her another audience. 

But the devoted mother did not give up even now. 
On September loth she visited President Taft's sum- 
mer residence at Beverly. She was met there by Secret 
Service men to whom she told her story, and was re- 
ferred by them to the executive ofHces which President 
Taft had in Beverly. Though not allowed to see the 
President, she was kindly treated and her story listened 
to in every detail for nearly an hour, when she was told 
that the President could do nothing to save her son — 
that the matter was beyond his jurisdiction. His secre- 
tary dictated a long letter to a Connecticut Senator, 
asking him to use his influence to stay proceedings, but 
it amounted to nothing. 

Guy F. Perkins, the Christian Science reader at the 
church at Springfield, was first called to see Spencer 
by Frank Allen of the York Street Jail, who had imme- 
diate charge of Spencer for several months. Spencer's 
talent for drawing was developed after he became in- 
terested in Christian Science, without instruction and 
with no evidence of previous talent shown in this direc- 
tion up to the time he embraced that faith. 

The influence on Spencer of Christian Science teach- 
ings continued to the end. On the morning of his ex- 
ecution, he inquired on awakening, "What kind of a 
day is it?" and on being told it was rather rainy, he 


said, "I hope the sun will shine sometime today — it 
ought to shine on my last day." 

In a letter dated the evening of September i6, 1912, 
Spencer writes to his mother, with a perfectly steady 
and natural hand two hours before his execution, a 
long, loving letter, in which he says: 

I am enclosing a lock of my human hair with a little ribbon tied 
thereto and rose leaves that expresses my most tender and loving 
regard for my dear mother. . . . 

It is my request, dear, that no one wear mourning for me. 

Love has provided me today with a check from Mr, Perkins suf- 
ficient to defray all expenses following tonight. No expense will 
remain to be defrayed by the State or anyone, thanks to Mr. and 
Mrs. Perkins. 

You understand, dear, this is a gift to me and is not as though 
you had to receive it as a charity or repay it as a loan. 

10 P.M. Dr. Briggs has just left here with Warden Bridges 
after spending an hour with me. Through the kindness of Mr. Steb- 
bins and Mr. Perkins I made out a request in writing to the Superior 
Court that Dr. Briggs be allowed to call upon me. Mr. Stebbins 
(the Prison Chaplain) took my request and it was granted. 

He then expresses his wish to be cremated because 
he says he had been told it was "clean and hygienic" 
and continues: 

The Warden is a fine-looking and appearing man and the deputy 
warden and all the officers have been just lovely to me and my praise 
of them is in the highest human sense. 

Now, dear mother, child and folks, it is nearing the time when I 
must close this letter but in my most loving thoughts you all will 
abide forever. 

"Love is our refuge, Only 
With mine eye 
Can I behold the snare. 
The pit, the fall. 
His habitation high is 
Here and nigh. 
His arm encircles me 

And mine and all." 

Ever most lovingly, 


11 P.M., September 16, 191 2. 


On the afternoon of September i6th I was at my 
farm in Hancock, New Hampshire, when to my sur- 
prise I received an order from the Justice of the Su- 
perior Court to report to the Massachusetts State's 
Prison at once. On my arrival at about eight P. M. 
I was met by Warden Bridges, then in his 76th year, 
carrying a cane which he used to assist him, as he was 
enfeebled by age and rheumatism. He also used this 
cane to give signals for the current to be turned on at 
the different electrocutions. Spencer's electrocution 
was the fourth at which this cane fell to the pavement 
as a death signal during that year of 1912. He told me 
Spencer desired to see me and that it had been neces- 
sary for him to get an order from the Superior Court. 
He then took me through the dimly lighted passage- 
ways of "Cherry Hill" along "Murderers' Row" to 
Spencer's cell, which was brilliantly lighted. As we 
stopped at the cell door Spencer came to the bars and 
greeted us pleasantly. The prison guards had just 
finished preparing Spencer for the electric chair. With 
the clippers they had cut a wide swathe of hair, close 
to his head, to admit the close application of the head 
electrode, and the rest of his hair had been cut and 
arranged to his own satisfaction, the prisoner directing 
how he thought it would be most becoming. A slit 
had been made in the cloth of his left trouser leg for 
the other electrode. Spencer first spoke to me and 
then Warden Bridges introduced himself and explained 
that the reason he had not seen Spencer before was 
because he had been away on a vacation. Spencer's 
answer was, "I will see you later but now I would like 
to see Dr. Briggs alone." Although Warden Bridges 
was not supposed to leave a man condemned to die 


alone with a visitor he said he would trust me and 
ushered me into Spencer's cell and then withdrew to 
the end of the corridor, taking his guards with him, 
out of sight and out of hearing. Only once during the 
next hour or so did anyone disturb us and that was when 
Spencer at one time laughed so loud over something he 
was relating that Warden Bridges appeared to see if 
all was well and immediately retired again. Spencer's 
object in sending for me was to get my promise to see 
that his mother brought up his boy. He spoke in warm 
and affectionate terms of his boy and his mother and 
of her love for and devotion to him. He spoke of 
Christian Science and of what it had done for him and 
wished that everyone was as happy as he was that night, 
especially his mother and Governor Foss. At about 
ten o'clock he said, "Now, Doctor, I want you to go. 
You do not want to stay to see this affair — it would be 
unpleasant for you to see, but it is going to be a won- 
derful thing for me. It will be only that (snapping 
his fingers) and then I shall be in the next world with 
God and, oh, how happy I shall be ever after." I left 
him and he was smiling and cheerful and apparently 
happy, and I endeavored to show him the same spirit. 
Warden Bridges later told me that when the time came 
for Spencer to go to the chair, one of the "death watch" 
said, "Come on, Bert — what do you say? Are you 
ready?" Spencer answered, "I am ready," and slid 
from the bed on which he was lying, placed his feet in 
his slippers with a smile, and immediately began his 
walk to the chair, leading the way. The tap, tap of 
the Warden's cane, preceding the witnesses, was the 
only sound heard. 

Spencer walked into the chamber unassisted, fol- 


lowed by the Warden and the death watch, and smiled 
as he entered, evidently not realizing the seriousness of 
the proceedings, as a normal man would have done. 
Being complimented upon his calmness, he planted his 
feet firmly together, clasped his hands before him and, 
standing before the chair, made his statement to the 
nine or ten witnesses present: 

"I wish to say to the world and to the press that this 
is not nerve but the love of God that has sustained me." 

He then looked about, and nodding to several of the 
witnesses, said ''Good-night"; and, still smiling, he took 
his seat in the chair. The Warden's cane fell. Chief 
Engineer Currier, of the Massachusetts General Hos- 
pital, stood by the switch-board and turned on the cur- 
rent as the Warden's cane dropped at 12.16^ P. M. 
and Spencer was pronounced dead within a few 

The body was removed to the North Grove Street 
Morgue, where an autopsy was performed by Medical 
Examiner McGrath, after which it was cremated, in 
compliance with Spencer's own wishes, and the ashes 
sent to his mother. 

A history of the Spencer family subsequent to 
Bertram's execution would be of great scientific inter- 
est, but unfortunately for the scientist one is not free to 
publish intimate details of the personal lives of one's 
neighbors. I may say here that I have been more or 
less in touch with Mrs. Spencer, and have many letters 
from her written during the past six years. Both the 
sister and the brother of Bertram Spencer have had 
"nervous" breakdowns. It is interesting to note that 
in their cases these changes did not come in childhood 
as was the fact with Bertram, so as to be noticeable to 


their mother — but came on, in each case, at about the 
age of twenty-five, after Bertram's arrest. In the case 
of the sister, as with Bertram Spencer himself, her 
"nervous" symptoms gradually disappeared after she 
had embraced the faith of Christian Science. 

The experts for the State and for the defence knew 
that Bertram G. Spencer was insane at the time of the 
homicide and at the time of the trial. They differed 
in that some thought that he was medically insane, but 
sane under the technical rule of law; while others 
thought that he was medically and legally insane. 
Recognizing the vital fact that Spencer was actually 
insane, all of the important experts believed that he 
should not be tried. They knew that the facts were 
undisputed and that they would not dififer in their med- 
ical conclusions. Believing that the trial of an insane 
man would be an ofifence against humanity, an efifort 
was made to stop the trial through a conference by the 
alienists of both the defence and the prosecution, but 
all parties not being willing to agree to such a confer- 
ence the effort failed. 

The whole legal machinery of the State had been put 
in motion to crush this defective and uphold the 
Majesty of the Law, and so it came about that Bertram 
G. Spencer, a defective from birth, with the mind of a 
child, was tried for his life and sentenced to death and 
was executed with a smile upon his lips. 








After the trial and execution of Czolgosz on October 
29th, 1901, it appearing from the reports of the alien- 
ists, as published, that no thorough, scientific investiga- 
tion or study had been made of his mental or physical 
condition previous to his arrest, Dr. Walter Channing, 
with whom I was then associated, suggested that we 
investigate his history and ascertain, if possible, his 
mental and physical condition for some years prior to 
the assassination of President McKinley. It was de- 
cided that I should make the investigation. Dr. Chan- 
ning paying his part of the expense for a joint paper. 
On January 3, 1902, Dr. Channing wrote me as fol- 
lows: "I depend on your going to Cleveland by next 
week, though I hate to have you take so much trouble, 
but I know you will succeed better than anyone else." 

I thought it important to start my study at Auburn 
Prison, New York, where Czolgosz was electrocuted, 
and then to trace back his career, visiting all the places 
where he had lived, and the following history will 
show to what extent I carried out my purpose. Soon 
after I began my investigation, I realized it was impor- 
tant if Dr. Channing was to read the paper we were to 



write, that he should at least visit one of the cities where 
Czolgosz resided, and so urged. After I returned with 
the facts I had unearthed, as in substance appears in 
the following pages, he agreed, and on May 22, 1902, 
wrote me he had arranged to go to Cleveland the fol- 
lowing Monday and said : "I should certainly not want 
to go out there without you. I am sure I should not 
accomplish as much as with you, and possibly we might 
get on the track of new things this time." 

Little that was new was learned on the second trip. 
After this trip together, Dr. Channing wrote me the 
following letter: 

BroolcHne, June 5, 1902. 
My dear Dr. Briggs: 

I much appreciate all the labor and pains you have taken in the 
Czolgosz case. You certainly have shown great ability and perse- 
verance in following up clues. I also must heartily thank you for 
your considerate and unselfish efforts to make our recent journey 
to Cleveland pleasant and easy for myself. You succeeded in making 
an old maid comfortable. 

Yours very truly, 

(Signed) Walter Channing. 

Dr. Channing left for New Brunswick while I was 
continuing my investigation, and in an answer to a 
letter from me, in which I described my visit to the 
Anarchists' meeting, he replied from Campobello 
Island, N. B., under date of August 15, 1902, as 
follows : 

"I was very glad to get your letter of the 6th inst. 
The Anarchists' meeting was as extraordinary as inter- 
esting, and did give you a chance to study a strange sect 
at close range. I suppose the fact that they are allowed 
such entire freedom of action (within certain limits) 
is the reason they do no more harm. With restrictions 
the Government puts on or proposes to put on them, 


they may do more harm in the future. Certainly the 
more they are suppressed in Europe the worse they are. 
Suppression is a temporary remedy which does not 
cure the disease." 

It was more than interesting to learn what was actu- 
ally Czolgosz's mental condition for some years prior 
to his crime and how, instead of treating the crime as 
the act of a mentally ill man, the authorities and alien- 
ists accepted this deluded man's estimate of himself, 
even to his statement that he was an Anarchist, without 
corroborative evidence or a careful investigation into 
his antecedents or his life before this unnatural and 
purposeless crime. The alienists said: "We came to 
our conclusions from the history of his life as it came 
from him." The authorities said: "He claimed to be 
an Anarchist and a follower of Emma Goldman." 





In the year 1901 the Pan-American Exposition was 
held in the city of Buffalo, New York. It attracted 
millions of strangers, and notwithstanding that on many 
occasions the population of the city was nearly doubled, 
there was less crime committed in the city during the 
six months of the Exposition than during the corre- 
sponding time of any previous year since the Depart- 
ment of Police of Buffalo was organized. This was 
primarily due to the precautions taken against an influx 
of criminals from all parts of the world. As the Ex- 
position Company had a most excellent police force, 
under a veteran police officer. Col. John Byrne, the 
Buffalo police did not enter the grounds except on 
special occasions when requested. 

President McKinley arrived in Buffalo on a special 
train of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Rail- 
way, which went direct to the Exposition Grounds, at 
6 P. M., September 4th. At the railway gate of the 
Exposition, the President and his party were met by 
the Fourth Brigade, National Guards, Signal Corps, 
mounted, also twenty mounted police officers of the 
Buffalo department. In addition, there were four de- 



tectives who were especially instructed to keep near the 
President's person during his visit to Buffalo. 

Thursday, September 5th, was the President's day at 
the Pan-American Exposition, and he was escorted to 
the Grounds by the same mounted escort that met him 
September 4th. The instructions of the mounted detail 
were to be in attendance upon the President during his 
stay within the city; but after the 5th, at the request of 
Mrs. McKinley, the detail of mounted police was re- 
duced to eight men. On Friday, September 6th, the 
President again visited the Exposition Grounds, and 
also made a trip to Niagara Falls, returning to the 
Exposition on the afternoon of that day for the purpose 
of holding a public reception in the Temple of Music. 
It was while the President was holding this reception 
that, at seven minutes past four, a young man with one 
hand apparently done up in a handkerchief approached 
him and immediately fired two shots. 

One bullet struck the President near the upper part 
of the sternum, the other in the left hypochondriac 
region. The man was immediately seized, his clothing 
torn, and he was beaten about the head and body by 
the crowd, but was rescued by Detectives and Police, 
who hustled him into a carriage and drove him directly 
to the Police Headquarters, Prison Department. The 
President was immediately conveyed to an emergency 
hospital on the Exposition Grounds in a motor ambu- 
lance driven by a medical student named Ellis, where 
he arrived at 4.18. Accompanying him in the ambu- 
lance were Dr. G. McK. Hall and E. C. Mann, a 
medical student of the house staf¥. On arriving at the 
hospital he was placed upon the operating table and 
undressed — one bullet falling out of his clothes. Dr. 


Herman Mynter was the first surgeon to arrive, at 445. 
At that time Drs. Van Peyma and Fowler of Buffalo 
and E. W. Lee of St. Louis were present, and Dr. Myn- 
ter brought Dr. Eugene Wasdin, of the U. S. Marine 
Hospital Service. Dr. Mynter told the President it 
would be necessary to operate and preparations were 
at once made, as daylight was rapidly fading and in- 
ternal hemorrhage was feared. Dr. Matthew D. Mann, 
who arrived at the hospital at 5.10, was selected to do 
the operation, which began at 5.29, ether being the 
anaesthetic used. Dr. P. M. Rixey, U. S. N., President 
McKinley's family physician, had been detailed by the 
President to accompany Mrs. McKinley to the home 
of John C. Milburn, where they were stopping, and 
did not arrive at the hospital until 5.30. He gave very 
sufficient service, first by guiding the rays of the sun to 
the seat of the operation by the aid of a hand mirror and 
later by arranging an electric light. 

The President bore the operation, which took an hour 
and a half, very well, but the bullet which entered the 
body was not found. On Thursday morning, Septem- 
ber 12, the seventh day, the President seemed at his 
best and a favorable diagnosis was given out, but on 
Friday the 13th his heart failed to respond to stimula- 
tion which had been kept up with varying degrees of 
intensity ever since the shooting, and in the evening he 
lost consciousness and died on the ninth day, Saturday, 
September 14, at 3.15 in the morning.* 

* An incision was made from the edge of the ribs downwards, passing 
through the bullet wound. A piece of cloth was removed from the track of 
the bullet; the anterior wall of the stomach was found to have been per- 
forated by the bullet, some of the liquid food escaping. This perforation 
was closed with a double row of fine black silk sutures using a straight 
round sewing needle, eight stitches being used in each row. With great 
difficulty the wound in the posterior wall of the stomach was reached and 


After Czolgosz had been taken to Police Head- 
quarters, he was brought before Assistant District At- 
torney Haller and the Superintendent of Police. He 
told them that his name was Fred Nieman and that 
he was born in Detroit, was 28 years old, that he was an 
anarchist, that he had killed the President and that he 
believed he had done his duty and was glad of it. Dur- 

closed, it being somewhat larger than the anterior wound. All parts were 
carefully irrigated with hot salt solution. Dr. Mann introduced his arm 
so as to palpate carefully all the deep structures behind the stomach, but no 
trace of the bullet or of its further track could be found. The introduction 
of the hand in this way seemed to have a bad influence on the President's 
pulse, so a prolonged search for further injury done by the bullet or for the 
bullet itself was desisted from. 

Before closing the abdominal wound, Dr. Mann asked each surgeon pres- 
ent whether he was entirely satisfied; each replied that he was. Dr. Mynter 
was in favor of a Mikulicz drain being placed down behind the stomach 
walls. Dr. Mann, with the concurrence of other surgeons, decided against 
this as being unnecessary. The tissues around the bullet track in the abdo- 
minal wall were then trimmed, in order to remove any tissue which might be 
infected. The abdominal wound was closed with seven through and through 
silk-worm gut sutures, the muscle being joined with buried cat-gut. Where 
the bullet had entered there was slight gaping of the tissues, but it was not 
thought advisable to close this tightly, as it might allow of some drainage. 

The President bore the operation, which took an hour and thirty-one 
minutes, very well. At the beginning of the operation his pulse was 84; 
when the bandage was applied over the wound at 7:01, the pulse was 124, 
the respiration 36. Strychnine, brandy and morphine had been administered 
up to this time. Before recovering from the anassthetic he was removed 
from the hospital to Mr. Milburn's house, where a hospital bed had been 
prepared for him. The difficulties of the operation were very great, owing 
partly to the want of retractors and to the failing light. Dr. Mann stated 
after the operation, "To have used the X-Ray simply to have satisfied our 
curiosity would not have been warrantable as it would have greatly dis- 
turbed and annoyed the patient, and would have subjected him also to a 
certain risk. My reason for not draining was there was nothing to drain." 
After the President had been removed to Mr. Milburn's, Dr. Rixey, aided 
by Dr. Wasdin, was in constant charge of the sick-room, and Dr. Park helped 
to decide many difficult questions. The President rested fairly comfortably 
until 6:30 P. M. on Saturday, the next or second day, when he complained of 
intense pain in the pit of his stomach. His pulse was 130 and temperature 
102.5. Morphia quieted him. During the day digitalis, morphia and saline 
solutions were given at regular intervals, and at 10:30 P. M. 5 gm. of 
somatose. On Sunday, the third day, September 8th, after a fairly good 
night, he had a day without much change, and his condition was considered 
satisfactory. He was given digitalis, strychnia and a nutritive enema, and a 
teaspoonful of water by mouth. His wound was dressed, the bullet track 
being syringed out with hydrogen dioxide. At 9 P. M. his pulse was 130, 
temperature 101.6, respiration 30. On the fourth, fifth and sixth days there 
was little change, excepting slightly for the better; a little slough wag 


ing examination he was at all times cool and collected, 
showing no indication of remorse or sorrow for the 
crime he had committed. 

On the evening of the first examination of the pris- 
oner, Dr. Joseph Fowler, Surgeon of the Police, sug- 
gested to the District Attorney that investigation as to 
Czolgosz's sanity should be immediately begun, and 

observed near the bullet track, covering a space nearly an inch wide, sup- 
posed to be caused by the infection of the wound from the bullet or a piece 
of clothing. The parts were washed with hydrogen dioxide and packed 
with gauze. The pulse went down to 116 and 120. 

On Thursday, the seventh day, September 12th, the President in the morn- 
ing seemed at his best and a favorable prognosis was given out. The time 
for peritonitis and sepsis had passed; the patient's tongue was clear, his 
appetite increasing and he was able to turn on his side easily; no pain nor 
tenderness in abdomen, spirits good, mind clear, temperature only 100, pulse 
strong. Toward noon the character of the pulse was not quite so good. 
Infusion of digitalis was ordered and strychnine. Dr. Charles G. Stockton 
was added to the medical staff. 

On the eighth day, Friday, September 13th, his heart failed to respond 
properly to stimulation. As early as midnight strychnine and whiskey were 
given at frequent intervals, and hypodermics of camphorated oil. At 8:30 
A. M., adrenalin was given hypodermically, and at 9:40 repeated. At 9, 
coffee, clam broth and liquid peptonoids were given; at 10 A. M. nearly two 
pints of normal salt solution were given under the skin, and a pint of the 
solution containing adrenalin at 6 P. M. Nitroglycerine and camphor were 
also injected at various times, together with brandy and strychnine. But at 
3 :3o P. M. the pulse was still growing weaker, and at 5 oxygen was resorted 
to. At 6:35 and 7:40 morphine was given, and at 10 P. M. oxygen was 
discontinued, the heart sounds being very feeble and consciousness lost. The 
President died on the ninth day, September 14th, at 3:15 A. M. 

An autopsy was performed by Drs. Gaylord and Matzinger. It showed 
extensive necrosis of the substance of the pancreas; necrosis of the gastric 
wall in the neighborhood of both wounds; the left kidney showed that the 
ball had grazed the superior aspect; there was also evidence that the left 
adrenal gland was injured. The absence of bacteria from the tissues indi- 
cated that the wound was not infected at the time of the shooting. The 
extensive necrosis of the pancreas seemed an important factor in the cause 
of death; also the changes in the heart, including extensive brown 
atrophy, diffuse fatty degeneration of the muscle and especially the extent 
to which the pericardial fat had invaded the atrophic muscle fibres of 
the right ventricular wall, explaining the lack of response of this organ to 
stimulation. The injury of the pancreas was the result of the indirect 
rather than the direct action of the missile. Bacteriological examinations of 
the barrel of the weapon used, of the empty shells and loaded cartridges, 
made by Dr. Hill, a chemist, were negative. Dr. Matzinger closed his report 
with a statement as follows: "The absence of known pathogenic bacteria, 
particularly in the necrotic cavity, warrants the conclusion that bacterial 
infection was not a factor in the production of the conditions found at the 


each day thereafter Drs. Fowler, Putnam and Crego 
examined Czolgosz and the prison guards in charge of 
him carefully watched his conduct and made reports 
thereon. Their report, which is dated September 28th, 
1901, reads as follows: 

Hon. Thomas Penny, 

District Attorney, Erie County, N. Y. 

Complying with your request to examine into the mental condition 
of Leon F. Czolgosz and report to you the result of our findings, we 
respectfully submit the following: 

In conducting the examinations of the prisoner, we carefully 
eliminated all bias and personal revenge, which so revolting a crime 
might suggest, to reach a just conclusion as to his mental state. 

The early opportunity afforded us to examine Czolgosz, the ex- 
aminations beginning but a few hours after the commission of the 
crime, while he was still uninformed of the fate of his victim, or had 
time to meditate upon the enormity of his act, aided us materially in 
our work. 

As will be seen from our report, the prisoner answered questions 
unhesitatingly during the first three examinations. 

After this he became more cautious and less communicative when 
interrogated as to the crime. From September loth until after his 
trial he never volunteered any information to the examiners, and 
answered only in monosyllables, except to his guards, to w'hom he 
talked freely. Leon F. Czolgosz is 34 years old, born of Polish 
parents at Detroit, Mich., single, 5 feet 7% inches high, weighs 136 
pounds, general appearance that of a person in good health, com- 
plexion fair, pulse and temperature normal, tongue clean, skin moist 
and in excellent condition. Pupils normal and react to light, reflexes 
normal, never had serious illness. He had a common school educa- 
tion, reads and writes well. Does not drink in excess, although 
drinks beer about every day, uses tobacco moderately, eats well, 
bowels regular. Shape of head normal, as shown by the diagram 
obtained by General Bull, Superintendent of Police, with a hatter's 

The face is symmetrical, one eyebrow was apparently asymmetrical, 
and elevated, as it had been cut some years ago by a wire while he 
was working in a wire factory. There was also a small scar on left 
cheek due to slight injury while at work. 

At our first interview, held September 7th, he made the following 
statements during a lengthy examination by all three examiners: 
"I don't believe in the republican form of government and I don't 

O is 1* 
O >- oo 

1) tj 

1) o 

4:; U 


believe we should have any rulers. It is right to kill them. I had 
that idea when I shot the President, and that is why I was there. 
I planned killing the President three or four days ago, after I came 
to Buffalo. Something I read in the Free Society suggested the idea. 
I thought it would be a good thing for the country to kill the Pres- 
ident. When I got to the grounds, I waited for the President to 
go into the Temple. I did not see him go in, but someone told 
me he had gone in. My gun was in my right pocket with a handker- 
chief over it. I put my hand in my pocket after I got in the door ; 
took out my gun, and wrapped the handkerchief over my hand. I 
carried it that way in the row until I got to the President; no one 
saw me do it. I did not shake hands with him. When I shot him, 
I fully intended to kill him. I shot twice. I don't know if I would 
have shot again. I did not want to shoot him at the Falls; it was 
my plan from the beginning to shoot him in the Temple. I read in 
the paper that he would have a public reception. I know other men 
who believe what I do, that it would be a good thing to kill the 
President and to have no rulers. I have heard that at the meetings 
in public halls. I heard quite a lot of people talk like that. Emma 
Goldman was the last one I heard. She said she did not believe in 
government nor in rulers. She said a good deal more. I don't re- 
member all she said. My family does not believe as I do. I paid 
$4.50 for my gun. After I shot twice they knocked me down and 
trampled on me. Somebody hit me in the face. I said to the officer 
that brought me down 'I done my duty.' I don't believe in voting, 
it is against my principles. I am an anarchist. I don't believe in 
marriage. I believe in free love. I fully understood what I was 
doing when I shot the President. I realized that I was sacrificing 
my life. I am willing to take the consequences. I have always 
been a good worker. I worked in a wire mill and could always do 
as much work as the next man. I saved three or four hundred 
dollars in five or six years. I know what will happen to me — if 
the President dies, I will be hung. I want to say to be published — 
'I killed President McKinley because I done my duty.* I don't 
believe in one man having so much service and another man having 

On the second day's examination we covered about the same ground 
as on the previous day in order to test his memory and to compare 
his statements. We found his memory perfect, and his statements 
almost identical. On this examination we gained some further in- 
formation, that for many months he had been an ardent student of 
the false doctrines of Anarchy; that he had attended many circles 
where these subjects were discussed. He related how a friend of his 
had broken away from the circle because he had changed his views 
and did not agree with him and the others in their radical ideas of 
government. He had heard Emma Goldman lecture, and had also 


heard lectures on free love by an exponent of that doctrine. He 
had left the Church five years ago, because, as he said, he "did not 
like their style." He had attended a meeting of anarchists about 
six week ago, and also in July. Had met a man in Chicago about 
ten days ago who was an Anarchist and had talked with him. The 
Friday before the commission of the crime, he had spent in Cleveland, 
leaving Buffalo, where he had been for two or three weeks, and going 
to Cleveland. Said he had no particular business in Cleveland. 
"Just went there to look around and buy a paper." 

The circle he belonged to had no name. They called themselves 
Anarchists. At every meeting they elected a chairman, and usually 
it was one man (mentions name). "He was a sort of spokesman 
for the crowd. This friend of mine who left the circle I don't 
think much of. I don't like a man who changes around like he 
did. I like a man who has a fixed purpose, and one who sticks to 
his belief. At this circle we discussed Presidents and that they 
were no good." During this examination the prisoner was very 
indignant because his clothing was soiled at the time of his arrest, 
and he had not had an opportunity to care for his clothing and person 
as he wished. He refused to demonstrate again how he covered 
his weapon with a handkerchief, because his was soiled and bloody. 
When given a clean one he showed at once the method of concealing 
the weapon, and how he held it. His desire to keep himself tidy 
demonstrated that he was not careless in dress and appearance as 
most insane persons are. He requested clean clothing, and as he had 
a small amount of money a shirt and two handkerchiefs were pur- 
chased for him with it. When they were brought in the change was 
shown him. He instantly turned to the officer and said "How is 
that? Didn't I get more change?" The cost of the articles was told 
him, and he said, "Oh, that's all right then." Said he would have 
slept well last night but for the noise of people walking about. He 
had heard several drunken people brought into the station at night. 
Said he felt no remorse for the crime which he had committed. Said 
he supposed he would be punished, but every man had a chance on a 
trial ; that perhaps he would not be punished so badly after all. His 
pulse on this occasion was 72 ; temperature normal ; not nervous or 

On September 9th w^e observed a marked change in his readiness to 
answer questions. Many of the questions asked he refused to answer. 
He denied that he had killed the President or that he meant to kill 
him. Seemed more on his guard and refused to admit that he shot 
the President. He persisted in this course until nearly the close of 
the interview, and until we told him that it was too late for him to 
deny statements that he had made to us. He then said "I am glad I 
did it." 

At all subsequent interviews he declined to discuss the crime in 


any of its details with us, but would talk about his general condition, 
his meals, his sleep and how much he walked in the corridor of the 
jail, or upon any other subject not relating to the crime. From the 
daily reports filed with us, we note that he talked freely; that his 
appetite was good; that he enjoyed his walks which he took in the 
corridor of the jail. He told his guards that he would not talk with 
his lawyers because he did not believe in them and did not want them. 

In conclusion, as a result of the frequent examinations of Czolgosz, 
of the reports of his watchers during his confinement in the jail, of his 
behavior in court during the trial and at the time he received his 
sentence, we conclude that he was sane at the time he planned the 
murder, when he shot the President and when on trial. We come 
to this conclusion from the history of his life as it came from him. 
He had been sober, industrious and law-abiding until he was twenty- 
one years of age; he was, as others in his class, a believer in the 
government of this country and of the religion of his fathers. After 
he cast his first vote he made the acquaintance of Anarchistic leaders 
who invited him to their meetings. He was a good listener, and in 
a short time he adopted their theories. He was consistent in his 
adherence to anarchy. He did not believe in government, therefore 
he refused to vote. He did not believe in marriage, because he did 
not believe in law. He killed the President because he was a 
ruler, and Czolgosz believed, as he was taught, that all rulers were 
tyrants; that to kill a ruler would benefit the people. He refused 
a lawyer because he did not believe in law, lawyers or courts. 

We come to the conclusion that in the holding of these views 
Czolgosz was sane, because these opinions were formed gradually 
under the influence of Anarchistic leaders and propagandists. In 
Czolgosz they found a willing and intelligent tool ; one who had the 
courage of his convictions, regardless of personal consequences. We 
believe that his statement, "I killed the President because I done my 
duty," was not the expression of an insane delusion, for several reasons. 
The most careful questioning failed to discover any hallucinations of 
sight or hearing. He had received no special command; he did not 
believe he had been specially chosen to do the deed. He always spoke 
of his motive for the crime as duty; he always referred to the 
Anarchists' belief that the killing of rulers was a duty. He never 
claimed the idea of killing the President was original with him, but 
the method of accomplishing his purpose was his, and he did it alone. 
He is not a case of paranoia, because he has not systematized delu- 
sions reverting to self, and because he is in exceptionally good con- 
dition and has an unbroken record of good health. His capacity for 
labor had always been good and equal to that of his fellows. The se 
facts all tend to prove that the man has an unimpaired mind. Tie 
has false beliefs, the resiilt ot talse "teaching and not the result of 
disease. He is not to be classed as a degenerate, because we do not 


find the stigmata of degeneration; his skull is symmetrical, his ears 
do not protrude, nor are they of abnormal size, and his palate not 
highly arched. Psychically he has not a history of cruelty, or of 
perverted tastes and habits. He is the product of Anarchy, sane and 


Joseph Fowler, M.D, 
(Signed) Floyd S. Crego, M.D. 

James W. Putnam, M.D. 

While at Police Headquarters, Czolgosz was in soli- 
tary confinement, guarded day and night. He received 
the same food provided for other prisoners, except that 
upon the direction of the Police Surgeon after two or 
three days' confinement his diet was reduced. His 
breakfast consisted of potato, bread and butter and 
coffee; his dinner consisted of one kind of meat, one 
vegetable, bread and butter and coffee; and his supper 
was the same as breakfast. He had a very keen appe- 
tite. He was permitted to use a limited amount of 
tobacco daily. 

On Friday morning, September 13th, at 11 o'clock, 
Czolgosz was secretly removed from Police Head- 
quarters to the Erie County penitentiary, as the Jail 
was undergoing repairs. Here he was placed in the 
Woman's dungeon, and no one in the Penitentiary, with 
the exception of Mr. Sloan and one or two assistants, 
knew who was the prisoner confined in that dungeon. 
He was detained in the Penitentiary until five o'clock 
on the Monday afternoon following the removal of the 
President's remains from Buffalo, when he was brought 
to the Erie County Jail, and from thence conducted 
through the underground passage to the City and 
County Hall and arraigned before County Judge 
Emery. Czolgosz was indicted Monday morning, 
September i6th, by the Grand Jury then in session, 


charged with Murder in the First Degree. He was 
detained in the Erie County Jail until his conviction 
and then removed to the Auburn State Prison. 

Dr. Carlos F. Macdonald of New York, at the re- 
quest of Mr. Adelbert Moot, President of the Erie 
County Bar Association in Buffalo, arrived in that city 
on September 20th, 1901, for the purpose of making 
an inquiry into the mental condition of Czolgosz, "that 
he might be accorded every legal right, there being no 
desire to convict him if he were not mentally responsi- 
ble." Dr. Macdonald invited Dr. Arthur W. Hurd to 
examine the prisoner jointly with him. In his report, 
Dr. Macdonald says: 

After our examination of Czolgosz on Sunday, we reached the 
conclusion, independently of each other, that he was sane; and we 
so informed his counsel on Monday morning before the trial began. 
It should be said that, owing to the limited time — two days — at our 
disposal prior to the trial, and the fact that his family relatives 
resided in a different State and were not accessible for interroga- 
tion, we were unable to obtain a history of his heredity beyond what 
he himself gave us. 

My last examination of Czolgosz was made jointly with Dr. Gerin, 
physician of Auburn Prison, the evening before his execution. This 
examination revealed nothing in either his mental or physical con- 
dition which tended to alter the opinion I gave his counsel at the 
time of his trial; namely, that he was sane — an opinion which was 
concurred in by all the official experts on either side: namely, Drs. 
Crego, Fowler and Putnam for the people and Dr. Hurd and myself 
for the defense, also by Dr. Gerin, the only other physician who 
examined him. Moreover, neither of the three careful personal 
examinations which I made of him — one alone, one with Dr. Hurd 
and one with Dr. Gerin — the measurements of his body by the 
Bertillon System, nor the post-mortem findings, disclosed the slightest 
evidence of mental disease, defect or degeneracy. 

In conclusion, having viewed the case in all its aspects, with due 
regard to the bearings and significance of every fact and circumstance 
relative thereto that was accessible to him. Dr. McDonald records 
his opinion "unqualifiedly, that Leon Czolgosz, on September 6th, 
1 90 1, when he assassinated President McKinley, was in all respect a 
sane man, both legally and medically, and fully responsible for his act." 



Dr. Macdonald's description of the trial and of the 
execution Is so concise that I will quote It verbatim: 

The Trial. — The trial of Czolgosz, which took place in the city 
of Buffalo, N. Y., on September 23-24, 1901, Hon. Truman C. 
White, presiding justice, was neither attended by delay "nor harassed 
by the trivial technicalities of the law." The "machinery of justice" 
moved so smoothly and so rapidly that the jury was procured, the 
case tried, and a verdict of guilty rendered within a period of two 
court days with sessions from 10 to 12 o'clock in the forenoons and 
2 to 4 o'clock in the afternoons, the time actually occupied being 
eight and a half hours in all. The proceedings were marked by no 
melodramatic or sensational episodes or unseemly wrangle among 
the counsel; while the fact that, under the extraordinary circum- 
stances, the trial was not anticipated nor interrupted by any riotous 
demonstration against the prisoner — any attempt at mob or lynch 
law — when he appeared in public, affords striking proof of the respect 
for law and order which prevails in the community where the trial 
was held. Czolgosz was brought into court closely guarded by a 
double cordon of police and handcuffed to an officer on either side. 
He was neatly dressed and cleanly in appearance, his face clean shaven 
and hair neatly combed. 

The preparation and trial of the case on the part of the people 
by the Hon. Thomas Penny, District Attorney, and his assistant, 
Mr. Haller, was well-nigh faultless. Shortly after his arrest, the 
District Attorney procured from Czolgosz a statement several pages 
in length, which was taken down in long-hand, narrative form, each 
page of which he signed after himself making corrections and revi- 
sions as to matters which he claimed the reporter had misapprehended. 
This statement gave in detail facts concerning his premeditations and 
preparations for the crime, also his movements for some time prior 
and up to the shooting. The District Attorney also, within a few 
hours after the crime was committed, proceeded to put the prisoner 
under the observation of local experts in mental disease, namely Drs. 
Joseph Fowler, Police-Surgeon Floyd S. Crego and James W. Put- 



nam. These physi'dans had free access to him, down to and during 
the trial — covering a period of nearly three weeks, during which they 
examined him repeatedly and made a careful study of his case with 
reference to his mental condition. The District Attorney also per- 
mitted the experts on either side to confer together freely, and 
allowed those for the defense to have free access to all facts and in- 
formation relative to the case in his possession — a proceeding which 
in effect was equivalent to the appointment»of a commission of five 
experts, three for the prosecution and two for the defense, to deter- 
mine the prisoner's mental condition. This course on the part of 
the District Attorney marks a new departure in the methods of get- 
ting expert evidence in criminal trials where the question of mental 
responsibility is involved, which is to be highly commended as a 
practical measure, tending to eliminate much superfluous testimony, 
and at the same time to minimize the danger of contradictory expert 

In view of the great importance of the case, it Is regrettable that 
no experts were called to testify on the trial as to the prisoner's 
mental condition in order that it might appear on the record of the 
trial that his mental state was inquired into and determined by 
competent authority. Had the experts on either side been given 
the opportunity of thus stating officially their unanimous conclusion, 
together with the grounds on which it was based and the methods 
by which it was reached, it would have left in the public mind no 
reasonable doubt as to its absolute correctness, and that it had been 
arrived at only by the rules of professional conduct governing the 
examination of such cases. 

The attorneys assigned by the court to the defendant, at the request 
of the Bar Association of Erie County, were ex-judges Lorin L. 
Lewis and Robert C. Titus, both prominent lawyers and highly re- 
spected citizens of Buffalo. For obvious reasons these gentlemen 
were reluctant to undertake what they regarded as a most distasteful 
task, and consented to do so only from a high sense of duty to the 
public, at the urgent solicitation of the President, Hon. Adelbert 
Moot, and other prominent members of the Bar Association, on 
Saturday, September 21st, preceding the trial, which began on Mon- 
day, the 23rd. 

Respecting the defense, it appears that substantially no preparation 
was made, beyond a fruitless effort of counsel to confer with the 
prisoner, and the examinations made of him at their request by Dr. 
Hurd and the writer, with reference to his mental condition, and 
a verbal statement by them to counsel of their conclusion that he 
was not insane. It also appears that no plea was entered by the 
attorneys for the defense; but Czolgosz, speaking for the first time 
in court, entered a plea of guilty to the indictment, which plea the 


court promptly rejected and directed that one of not guilty be entered 
on the record for the defendant. 

Each juror, on qualifying, said in answer to the usual question, 
that he had formed an opinion as to the guilt of the prisoner, but that 
his opinion could be removed by reasonable evidence tending to show 
that the defendant was innocent. And yet, to one accustomed to 
being in court and observing jurors when qualifying, it was difficult 
to avoid the impression that each of the jurors in this case held a 
mental reservation to convict the prisoner. Had Czolgosz been on 
trial for the murder of a common citizen, instead of the President, 
it is safe to say that not one of the jury as completed would have 
been accepted by the defense; and instead of getting a jury in approx- 
imately one hour and a half, that feature of the trial alone would 
probably have occupied several days. 

Having in view the nature and importance of the case, the fact 
that no testimony was offered on the defendant's behalf and that 
practically no defense was made, beyond a perfunctory examination 
of jurors and a mild cross-examination of some of the people's wit- 
nesses, which was limited to eilforts to elicit information respecting 
the President's- condition during his illness and of his body after death, 
and a summing up by one of the counsel — Judge Lewis — ^which con- 
sisted mainly of an apology for appearing as counsel for the defendant 
and a touching eulogy of his distinguished victim, renders the case, 
in this respect, a unique one in the annals of criminal jurisprudence. 

The jury retired for deliberation about 4 P.M., and returned in 
less than half an hour with a verdict of murder in the first degree. 
Czolgosz heard the verdict of the jury standing, and without ap- 
preciable display of emotion. Several of the jurors were reported to 
have said after the trial, that the jury was in favor of conviction 
unanimously from the first, and could have rendered a verdict with- 
out leaving their seats, but deemed it best to make a pretense at 
deliberation "for appearance's sake." Czolgosz was remanded to jail 
for two days, and on Thursday, September 26th, was sentenced to 
be executed by electrieity at Auburn Prison, in the week beginning 
October 28th, igoi. 

When Czolgosz returned to his cell after his conviction he ate 
a hearty supper, and soon thereafter went to bed and slept con- 
tinuously until midnight when the guard was changed, when he awoke 
for a few minutes, and then slept until 6 A.M., when he awoke and 
took a short walk in the cell corridor, after which he made a careful 
toilet, and at 7.30 partook of a hearty breakfast. He talked freely, 
as usual, on ordinary topics, but maintained his usual silence regarding 
his crime and would not talk of the trial or the verdict. On Thurs- 
day, September 26th, he was removed from the Buffalo jail to the 
State Prison at Auburn, N. Y., where he was confined in a "death 
cell" until his execution took place. 


The Execution. — Czolgosz was executed by electricity on the 
morning of October 29th, 1901. The official witnesses, consisting 
of the Superintendent of State Prisons and other prominent New 
York State officials, several physicians, three representatives of the 
respective press associations, Mr. Spitzka and others, and the official 
physicians — Dr. John Gerin, prison physician, and myself — having 
been assembled in the execution room and having received the usual 
admonition from the Warden as to the maintenance of order during 
the execution, the prisoner was conducted to the room a few minutes 
after 7 A.M. Every precaution was taken by the Warden who had 
immediate charge of the execution to minimize the opportunity for 
notoriety or sensationalism on the part of the prisoner, as well as to 
insure that his taking off should be effected in an orderly and dig- 
nified manner. 

As Czolgosz entered the room he appeared calm and self-possessed, 
his head was erect and his face bore an expression of defiant deter- 
mination. The guards, one on either side, quietly and quickly aided 
him to the fatal chair, the binding straps were rapidly adjusted to 
his arms, legs and body, and the head and leg electrodes were quickly 
placed in situ and connected with the wire which was to transmit the 
lethal current through his body. These preliminaries occupied about 
one minute. Czolgosz offered no resistance whatever, but during the 
preparations addressed himself to the witnesses in a clear, distinct 
voice in the following significant language: "I killed the President 
because he was the enemy of the good people — the good working 
people. I am not sorry for my crime. I am sorry I could not see 
my father." At this moment, everything being in readiness, the 
Warden signalled the official electrician in charge of the switch, who 
immediately turned the lever which closed the circuit and shot the 
deadly current through the criminal's body, which was instantly 
thrown into a state of tonic spasm, involving, apparently, every fibre 
of the entire muscular system. At the same time, consciousness, 
sensation and motion were apparently absolutely abolished. 

Two electrical contacts were made, occupying in all one minute 
and five seconds. In the first contact, the electro-motive pressure was 
maintained at 1 800 volts for seven seconds, then reduced to 300 volts 
for twenty-three seconds, increased to 1800 volts for four seconds, 
and again reduced to 300 volts for 26 seconds — one minute in all — 
when the contact was broken. The second contact, which was made 
at the instance of the writer as a precautionary measure, but which 
was probably unnecessary, was maintained at 1800 volts for five 
seconds. That conscious life was absolutely destroyed the instant 
the first contact was made, was conceded by all of the medical wit- 
nesses present; also that organic life was abolished within a few 
seconds thereafter. 

Czolgosz was pronounced dead by the attending physicians and 


several of the other physicians present, after personal examination in 
four minutes from the time he entered the room. One minute of this 
period, as already stated, was occupied in the preliminary prepara- 
tions, one minute and five seconds in the electrical contacts, and the 
remainder of the time in the examinations by the physicians to deter- 
mine the fact of death. The physicians present at the execution and 
at the autopsy were Drs. H. O. Ely of Binghamton, N. Y., W. A. 
Howe of Phelps, N. Y., G. R. Trowbridge of BufiEalo, N. Y., W. D. 
Wolff of Rochester and C. R. Huntley of Buffalo. 

Dr. Allan McLane Hamilton says in his Auto- 

I was sent for by Ainsley Wilcox, the distinguished Buffalo lawyer 
at whose house the President finally died, and at the request of the 
District Attorney went to Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. On arriving 
I found that the three people's experts, and the two physicians re- 
tained by the Erie County Bar Association had made up their minds 
that the prisoner was sane. It seems that they were a long time 
reaching a conclusion, and had made their report only an hour 
before they heard I was coming to Buffalo. A secret meeting, to 
which I was not invited, was held that night by the experts with 
the attorneys of both sides, and it was decided to go on with the trial. 
It really would appear as if everyone had surrendered to the popular 
clamor for the life of Czolgosz, who was practically friendless and 
deserted. I was then told that no further examination was necessary, 
after I had been informed the night before that I was to see the 
prisoner at nine o'clock on Monday morning. I was, how^ever, 
permitted to attend the trial, which I did. This was on Septem- 
ber 23rd, 1 90 1. I really do not think in all my experience that 
I have ever seen such a travesty of justice, nor have I heard of 
such a tribunal, except in the clever Grand Guignol little horror 
of Les Trois Messieurs du Havre. 

The prisoner was brought into court accompanied by one of his 
brothers. He was a tall young man with good features, but bore 
the effects of his ill-usage, for a red scar ran across his face. His 
was a prepossessing personality, and there was none of the repulsive 
cunning or ugliness of Guiteau. He was clearly demented, though, 
and seemed to take little or no interest in the proceedings. When 
made to stand up, he evidently did not understand the nature of 
the indictment, which was read twice, and he had to be asked 
twice to plead. Finally, when his coat-tail was pulled by his 
brother and the hint given, he said in a low voice: "Guilty." This, 
however, was not received by the judge, who forced him to plead 
"not guilty" and the latter plea was entered on the records. 


At BIR.N. N. y. 

, /.■?ij(u2C/ .^:1 /; , .>j?ii?tf^ : 

^,0^...-^^^^ 3-M ..-i^^fze^a^ 


Office of SBrermtendent of State Prlsois, 


Capitol, Alhanr, 

L, <cawh,r,r _ ' 


Just before his execution at Auburn, N. Y. 


That this should be done, unless the learned Judge White 
himself had doubts of the prisoner's sanity, is inconceivable. Then 
this trial went on. The tvi'o superannuated and apparently self- 
satisfied ex-judges assigned for the defense apologized freely and 
humbly for their appearance in behalf of this wretched man, re- 
ferred to "the dastardly murder of our martyred President," and 
really made nothing more than a formal perfunctory effort, if it 
could be called such. Long and fulsome perorations were indulged 
in by these remiss members of a great and dignified profession, and 
others who praised the dead President, and flattered each other, the 
District Attorney, the presiding Judge, the Medical Faculty of 
Buffalo and every one else they could think of. 

The doctors and surgeons were called upon to tell what they 
had individually and collectively done for President McKinley, 
and after a great deal more of this sort of testimony the poor madman 
was sentenced to death. All through the trial he had appeared 
absolutely silent and indifferent, and in fact said little before his 
execution except to reiterate his insane claim that in killing McKinley 
he had acted only in the interests of the poor man and for the 
public good. Some of this was the reflex of the yellow journal — 
some the fruit of the months of insane brooding. 

The postmortem examination of Czolgosz was per- 
formed by Edward A. Spitzka, under the supervision 
of Dr. Carlos F. Macdonald, an exhaustive account of 
which may be found in the New York Medical Record 
of January 4th, 1902. The results were summed up by 
saying that Czolgosz was in excellent health at the time 
of his death, and Spitzka says: 

It is a probable fact that certain oft-mentioned aberrations from 
the normal standard of brain structure are commonly encountered 
in some criminal or degraded classes of society, and those who have 
attempted to found a school of degeneracy have attempted to ex- 
plain crime and social wickedness as due to the "accidental per- 
sistence of lower types of human organization." But these struc- 
tural anomalies, so far as they have been described in the brains 
of criminals, are too few and too insufficiently corroborated to 
warrant us in drawing conclusions from them. Various perversions 
or anomalies of mind may exist in this class without presenting a uni- 
form criminal type, either from the sociologic or the anatomic aspect. 
Of course, it is far more difficult — and it is impossible in some 
cases — to establish sanity upon the results of an examination of 


the brain than it is to establish insanity. It is well known that 
some forms of psychosis have absolutely no ascertainable anatomic 
basis; and the assumption has been made that these psychoses depend 
rather upon circulatory and chemical disturbances. So far as this 
question touches upon the brain and body of Czolgosz, there have 
been found absolutely none of these conditions of the viscera that 
could have been at the bottom of any mental derangement. Taking 
all in all, the verdict must be "Socially diseased and perverted, but 
not mentally diseased." 



My investigation of the case began on January 7th, 
1902. I arrived that morning in Auburn, New York, 
breakfasted at the Osborn House and immediately 
afterwards repaired to the office of the Chief of Police, 
Mr. McManus, who with eighteen others had been sent 
to Buffalo to convey Czolgosz to Auburn immediately 
after his conviction. He stated that the newspaper 
reports of the demonstration at the time of the removal 
were false; that they left Buffalo Jail at 10 P. M., and 
that no one knew of the move until they arrived at 
Auburn about three o'clock the following morning. 
Chief McManus told me that Czolgosz seemed raven- 
ously hungry; that he ate a good supper before leaving 
Buffalo; that he ate or smoked during the whole trip 
to Auburn, and that he only stopped chewing or smok- 
ing long enough to answer the unimportant questions 
which were asked him. The jailer from Buffalo sat in 
the seat with him and he was provided with all the 
sandwiches and cigars he wanted. He was told by the 
Buffalo officers that he was a gormandizer, but he kept 
on eating all the same. The Chief also stated that 
Czolgosz's brother Waldek and his brother-in-law 
Frank Bandowski came to Auburn before the execution 
and stopped at 7 (or 9) Wall St., a boarding house kept 



by a Polish family with a curious name he could not 
remember, and that after the execution they all re- 
turned to Cleveland, the Overseers of the Poor paying 
their fares and helping them away. Dr. Gerin said 
that the night after the autopsy he was called by 
Waldek to see a man in a room dimly lighted by a kero- 
sene lamp ; that until he found the man actually had an 
injured foot, the surroundings were so suspicious he 
thought he might have fallen into a trap. 

Leaving the office of the Chief of Police, I went to 
the .prison. After I had introduced myself to Warden 
Mead, he tipped back in his chair and said, "I don't 
know who you are — how should I? My mouth is shut 
to you, sir." I then took the ground that what he said 
was what I had anticipated when I left Boston to make 
an investigation of Czolgosz's character, temperament 
and behavior as observed after his arrest, and to learn 
his history from his relatives and those who knew him 
before he was arrested; and that the only valuable in- 
forrnation that I expected to obtain from many officials 
in this case would be such as I should be able to get 
after overcoming such rebufifs as he had given me. He 
told me that I had no idea "how many scientific men 
and cranks of all kinds" came to make measurements, 
take casts of thumbs, palms of hands, etc., of different 
criminals whom he had in charge, but about whom he 
could give no information. I talked with him for some 
time, but he remained obdurate. 

During my conversation with him I found that he 
had not seen the Macdonald-Spitzka medical report, 
so I returned to my hotel for my copy, which I then 
showed him. He became interested, but denied having 
given any information contained therein, and said the 


Superintendent must have given the information the 
physicians obtained, including the report of what 
Czolgosz had said. He claimed that the only words he 
had spoken to Macdonald or Spitzka had been to lay 
down the law to them and tell them what they could 
not do. He said that at the autopsy he had stationed 
his most trustworthy guard over them, with instruc- 
tions to "run them out" if they attempted to secrete or 
carry away any atom of the remains of Czolgosz ; that 
they both begged hard for the brain or a portion of it, 
but were disappointed and got nothing. He then 
showed me the photographic plates taken of Czolgosz 
shortly before execution, but not printed until after- 
wards — full face and profile. About this time the 
Warden told me that he would help me all he could, 
and gave out for the first time the story of Czolgosz at 

He told me that when Czolgosz was brought into 
prison, he shook or shivered, and trembled and went all 
to pieces; that after the prisoner had been placed in a 
cell the Warden interviewed him, Mr. Ross taking 
notes of the interview, which were later filed away at 
Mr. Ross' house, no copy having been made of them 
and no record existing at the prison. The Warden said 
he had made up his mind not to let any reporters or 
other outside people know Czolgosz had made these 
statements, and that only once afterwards did Czolgosz 
say a word which gave them any information about 
himself, other than to declare that he was an anarchist. 
This was one day when he asked'the Warden when he 
was going to continue on his journey. The Warden 
told him that his journey was ended; Czolgosz an- 
swered, "I thought I had to go to Sing Sing — is it not 


Sing Sing where they do all the electrocuting?" When 
told that they also electrocuted in Auburn he seemed 
surprised and said, "In Ohio they only electrocute in 
one place, Columbus." The Warden then read me a 
great many of the daily reports of the guards who were 
over Czolgosz. They were mostly repetitions : that "he 
rose about seven, walked, dressed, ate his breakfast with 
apparent relish, having a very large appetite, smoked, 
took exercise, ate a hearty dinner, smoked two pipes of 
tobacco, lay down on his cot, ate supper" — always enu- 
merating what he ate — "smoked and retired, invariably 
maintaining a stolid silence." 

Only once of many times when he was left alone with 
other prisoners to see if he would talk to them did he 
do so, and this conversation was about snow and other 
unimportant subjects. The Warden, the guards, the 
prison physician and others who had come in contact 
with him all told me that when he was asked any ques- 
tion, even the simplest, he would not answer them for 
a long time, during which he was apparently deep in 
thought. In answering a question the Warden asked 
him about his family the Warden said Czolgosz waited 
at his cell door half an hour before answering.* 

•White says in his "Outlines of Psychiatry": 

"The awkward and constrained attitude of these (dementia precox) 
patients makes us feel quite out of touch with them. They seem unnatural— 
their acts are unpsychological, to coin an expression." 

According to Stransky, "there is a certain state of feeling which dominates 
all conditions of consciousness, a surprising stupidity and apathy, a certain 
poverty of affect, which is in strong contrast to the clearness which the 
patient may demonstrate. Cold and passive, without moving so much as an 
eyelash, without any spontaneous reaction, without expressing a wish, he is 
oriented as to time and place and person, is conversant with everything going 
on about him, shows good school knowledge, his memory is faultless, shoivs 
up ivell in an examination of his intelligence, and denies feeling sick. How- 
ever, he shows no longing for freedom or feeling of sadness at his position; 
these all appear extinguished in him. This coldness produces an unnatural 
impression. One gets the impression of the dream state in epilepsy, the 
mental state of which has a certain symptomatic relationship with certain 


Warden Mead said that when he asked Czolgosz 
why he took the name Nieman, the prisoner replied 
because it was his mother's name. Later he said his 
mother's name was Nebock, which in English is Nie- 
man.* He said the reason he took an alias was because 
he had "struck" under his own name and he changed it 
that he might get work again. He said his mother died 
over fifteen years ago, and that he had a stepmother 
whom he could not stand. In 1892, he said, he had put 
about $400 in a farm of 55 acres that his family had 
then bought, in the township of Warrensville, four 
miles from the town itself, which is twelve miles south- 
east of Cleveland, Ohio. Since then he had drawn out 
most of his money. The Warden said Czolgosz ap- 
peared "way above the ordinary criminal" in many 
ways. He claimed to have gone to night school in 
Cleveland, but persisted that he could not write; and 
all the efforts of the physicians, guards and others to 
get him to write even his name while in Auburn failed. 
At one time he asked the guard to write a letter for 
him and dictated an unimportant dozen lines, addressed 
to Waldek Czolgosz at Warrensville, Ohio. After dic- 
tating these few lines he seemed much afifected and did 
not want to dictate any more. He told the Warden 
that he had gone west for a time on July ist, 1901, and 

forms of dementia precox." White says cases of dementia precox "frequently 
complain that their thoughts leave them suddenly when they try to explain 
themselves, and we note in these cases, often in the midst of conversation, a 
sudden pause, and then a difficulty in resuming the train of thought. This 
thought deprivation, we have learned from association, is the result of strong 
emotional content — the flow of thought being inhibited by the presence of 
strong emotion. We have seen, for instance, how the reaction time is length- 
ened when an idea is struck with strong emotional coloring." 

* This assumed name will be found spelled in various ways in these 
records, according to the ideas of the various persons interviewed: Nieman, 
Neiman, Nimen (as Czolgosz himself spelled it), and Niemand. Various 
accounts of its origin and of his reason for assuming it were also given me. 


his brother Waldek also told the officers that Leon was 
travelling from place to place, that he sent for money 
at times, but also worked his way, being an expert 
thresher and skilled in repairing threshing machines. 
Waldek said that his brother would often disappear 
from home for five to ten days. The Warden said that 
Waldek insisted on having the body of his brother, but 
the Warden told him that he would be mobbed and 
that he would never be able to take it away from Au- 
burn; when he became convinced of this fact, he signed 
a release of the body to the Warden. 

During my interview of over three hours with 
Warden Mead, he sent for and introduced to me a 
number of officers who had had to do with Czolgosz. 
They were all unanimous as to Czolgosz's secretive at- 
titude and their inability to draw him into conversation 
or to get him to answer questions, unless he so decided 
after mature deliberation. The officers thought that 
his brother-in-law, Frank Bandowski, was an avowed 
anarchist, and said they had heard him making up a 
lot of stories, which the reporters were eagerly jotting 
down. Father Hickey told me that Czolgosz sent for 
a priest after his arrival in Auburn, but before he could 
get to him Bandowski had visited him, and after that 
Czolgosz would not see a priest, but waved him away 
when he approached. He told the Warden and the 
guard that if the priest came to his execution he would 
swear at him, adding, "you see if I don't!" Warden 
Mead said that he told Czolgosz one day that he was 
going to send a priest to him, and Czolgosz replied, 
'Tf you send a priest down here. Til smash his head." 
Mead replied, "I shall send a priest down, and you 
won't smash but just one head here." The next day 


the guards reported that he wanted to apologize to 
Warden Mead for saying he would smash anyone's 
head. The Warden sent Father Hickey, but Czolgosz 
would have nothing to say to him. He then sent the 
Rev. Father Fuchzniski, a Polish priest of Buffalo, 
who held some conversation with him, but Father 
Hickey said he never knew what passed between them. 
The Warden said the other murderers, quartered adja- 
cent to Czolgosz, did not say what the papers reported 
they said, but they did seem down on him. He said 
that days passed with no remarks from the prisoner. 
Warden Mead referred me to Mr. John Nelson Ross, 
who took all measurements and descriptions of the 
prisoners at Auburn, and also worked with Davis, who 
had performed some sixty electrocutions, on the theory 
that possibly at certain hours of the day or under cer- 
tain conditions and phases of the moon people die more 
easily, their resistance being less. 

Mr. Ross I found to be a very intelligent young man 
of about 33, a student. At 12.30 I dined with him and 
his widowed mother, a typical New England woman, 
and his four brothers, all fine-looking fellows, indus- 
trious and successful. He had completed the measure- 
ments and descriptions of about 4,000 men and women, 
and was then working on Czolgosz's measurements as 
compared with different classes of criminals. He told 
me he was finding Czolgosz's measurements above the 
average and away ahead of any class he had found. He 
showed me the record of measurements, descriptions 
and record of scars, etc., he had made on September 
27th. He said that for criminal investigations the left 
side was measured, as it changed less, being used less. 
His opinion after studying Czolgosz was that he had 


developed far above his family and surroundings; that 
he had got into the habit of brooding and had "soured 
on the whole world." Feeling that he was above his 
associates and having no other outlet, he had adopted 
anarchy as a way out of it all. 

Mr. Ross and, later. Dr. Gerin, spoke of Czolgosz's 
fine and rather wavy hair, being the heaviest head of 
hair they had ever seen; also of the extreme heaviness 
of his eyes, the upper lid seeming to give a cold or 
dreamy look — Dr. Gerin said, "He was dreamy." 

Soon Mr. Ross brought from his room the notes pre- 
viously referred to, which he had made during Warden 
Mead's interview, and which, so far as is known, con- 
tain the only statement that Czolgosz made at Auburn 
concerning his history. The statement reads that: 

He was born in Alpena, Michigan, in 1873, where he resided 
until he was five years of age, when he removed to Detroit, where 
he resided eleven years, when he went to Netrolia, Pennsylvania, 
near Pittsburg, where he worked in a diamond factory (he after- 
wards said glass factory) for one year and nine months, when he 
went to Warrenville, Ohio, where he invested his earnings with 
his family in a farm and worked on it for a time. It was after- 
wards sold, and he resided in Cleveland until July ist, 1901, when 
he left there. He also spoke of being in Cleveland first and then 
going to Warrenville and returning to Cleveland. Of his family 

he said his own mother's name was " 

mother's name Catarina . 

Nebock," his step- 

Paul age 59 

Waldek " 34, unmarried 

Frank " 32, 

Joseph " abt. 30, " 

LeonF. " 28, 

John " — 

Jacob " 23, married 

Ceceli " — " Frank 

Bandowski, 7 yrs. ago. 

Michael " 21, unmarried 

Victoria " 18, 

The above by his own mother, Paul's first wife. He (Paul) had 
also by his second wife two children, Charles and Antoine. 

His father's name 
" brother's " 

His brother's name 

" sister's 

" brother's " 
" sister's 


Dr. John Gerin, of 68 North St., Auburn, N. Y., was 
prison physician to the 1,100 prisoners who were then 
confined in Auburn. He was also deeply interested in 
the study of defective children and had become con- 
vinced that in the prevention of crime we have got to 
begin by training the child. He spoke of his belief 
that Leon was far above his family in intelligence, 
judging from his brother Waldek and what he could 
learn from him of the rest of the family. He spoke of 
Leon's reticence and said he gleaned nothing from his 
visits to the prisoner except once, when Leon asked 
him to send a priest immediately. The Warden was 
out, but when he returned and sent a priest, Czolgosz 
would not see him, and a smile played about his lips. 
Dr. Gerin said he felt sure Czolgosz would have seen 
the priest if he had come at once. Warden Mead was 
quite provoked and told Czolgosz that the prison offi- 
cials were not in the habit of running errands for 

Dr. Gerin said — and this was corroborated by 
Warden Mead and Mr. Ross — that, contrary to all 
published reports, Czolgosz went all to pieces at the 
hour of execution, and that his face was the picture 
of abject terror. Dr. Gerin said he was filled with 
fear and showed it. Warden Mead said the guards 
had virtually to carry him to the chair, he so nearly, 
collapsed. The Warden said so many different reports 
had appeared — many emanating from those present at 
the execution — purporting to be what Czolgosz had 
said at the last moment, that he would ask Mr. Ross 
to give me verbatim what he took down in shorthand, 
which was absolutely correct. It seems Czolgosz had 
wanted to make a public anarchistic speech from the 
scaffold. The Warden said he had learned of this the 


night before, when at twelve o'clock, for some reason 
which he did not remember, he had gone to Czolgosz's 
cell. The prisoner then told him he had something to 
say; Mead replied that he would never have a better 
opportunity than at that time, and Czolgosz said he 
wanted to make his statement before all the people 
when he was going to the chair. The Warden replied 
that this would be impossible, and Czolgosz then re- 
sumed his sullen, ugly mood and refused to talk any 
more. Just as he reached the platform he started to 
make, as the Warden thought, his anarchistic speech, 
but was hurried to the chair and the straps were placed 
on his face and chin while he was yet talking, the last 
sentence being rather mumbled than spoken. This is just 
what he said, as reported by Mr. Ross: 

"I shot the President because I thought it would help 
the working people and for the sake of the common 
people. I am not sorry for my crime." He was then 
seated in the chair and said "That is all I have to say." 
Just as the straps were being adjusted to his head and 
chin, he mumbled "I'm awfully sorry because I did not 
see my father." 

Having exhausted the information obtainable at Au- 
burn, I left for Buffalo. There I hired a carriage and 
interpreter and drove to the center of a district which 
is inhabited by many thousand Poles, living in small 
one-story or story-and-a-half houses, unpainted and dis- 
orderly inside and out. My object was to obtain an 
interview with the Polish priest, the Rev. Hyacinth 
Fudzinski, Rector of Corpus Christi Church, corner of 
Clark and Kent Streets. He was away in Syracuse; 
the two priests I found said they knew Father Fud- 


zinski had interviewed Czolgosz, but that he had never 
told either of them anything about it. I subsequently 
wrote to Fr. Fudzinski, but received no reply to my 





The next morning after arriving in Bufifalo I pre- 
sented myself at Police Headquarters, where I met 
Superintendent William S. Bull, who gave me all the 
information he could in regard to Czolgosz, and did 
everything in his power to assist me in my investigation. 
He believed that Czolgosz was an anarchist and that 
he had been guided by others in all he did. 

Chief Bull said that, after the arrest of Czolgosz, he 
was brought to Headquarters, arriving there just be- 
fore five. He was covered with dirt and some blood 
from the rough usage he had received by being tram- 
pled on by the crowd. He was "grouty," and not dis- 
posed to talk until he had been given something to eat. 
He ate all that was given him and then seemed more 
pleasant and willing to talk. He talked freely, saying 
that he had killed the President and was glad that he 
had done it. He was told that the President was not 
dead at that time, but afterwards the condition of the 
President was kept from him, and he did not know 
the result of his shots for a long time. When asked if 
he knew the enormity of his crime and its results, he 
said that he did, but that he knew people sometimes 
escape being hung and that he might also escape. 



Bull said that Czolgosz told him that he came to 
Buffalo on August 29th; that he was with the President 
at Niagara, and had an opportunity to kill him then 
and also at the Fair Grounds the day before he com- 
mitted the crime, but that he had planned to kill the 
President on that day, so he carried out his plan. He 
held his head high and seemed rather haughty, was 
much disturbed at his clothing being so soiled; one of 
the first things he asked was that he be allowed to wash 
up and change his clothes. This request was denied 
him until later, when he was told that one of the guards 
would get him some fresh clothes if he would furnish 
the money, which he did. When the clothes were 
brought he disputed the change, but on being told the 
cost of each article he said *'Oh, that's all right. Let 
it go." He spoke of Emma Goldman in rather a touch- 
ing way, and Chief Bull said it was plain to anyone 
who heard him talk about Emma Goldman that he was 
in love with her. During this interview and at other 
times while being interviewed during his whole stay 
in Buffalo, he would take his handkerchief from his 
pocket and wind it around his hand as he had done 
when he concealed the revolver to shoot the President. 
He would fold the handkerchief over his hand when 
talking, in an absent-minded way, as if he did not know 
what he was doing but was doing it from force of habit. 
Also, while he was walking in the cell the guard would 
see him sometimes apparently thinking deeply and at 
the same time folding the handkerchief over his right 
hand. After his arrest he was asked by the Chief to 
illustrate how he used the handkerchief and he rather 
dramatically showed them what he had evidently prac- 
ticed a long time. 


The Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Haller, came 
at once to Headquarters and took down Czolgosz's so- 
called confession, which was a statement of why he 
killed the President, a very brief account of his move- 
ments prior to the deed and a still shorter account of 
his life. This, the Chief said, had never been seen by 
anyone outside and had been taken away by Mr. Hal- 
ler; among other things the prisoner had said that he 
had once been in love with a girl who went back on 
him, since which time he had had nothing to do with 
women; that he had left home because his stepmother 
was very unkind to him; that on July ist, 1901, he had 
left Cleveland for Chicago and that he had spent most 
of his time since then in Chicago and Buffalo; that on 
August 30th he had returned to Cleveland for a paper 
published by the anarchists; that he had boarded for 
a time in West Seneca, but that he did not like the food 
nor the cooking and had come to town for his meals. 
He said that he did not wish to see any of his relatives 
nor any lawyers, as he did not believe in courts — that 
he did not believe in rulers or judges; and he gave in- 
structions to tell any callers who might come that he 
did not wish to see them. In this he was consistent; 
neither did he want to see any priest, absolutely refus- 
ing to do so, and he did not see any priest in Buffalo. 

At nine o'clock he was taken to his cell, very indig- 
nant that he was not allowed to wash up. About ten, 
the District Attorney, who had hastened to the Fair 
Grounds on the report of the assassination, arrived at 
Police Headquarters with his assistant Mr. Haller, 
who had previously taken down Czolgosz's confession. 
The District Attorney, Mr. Penny, then read over the 
confession to him, asking him to sign each page. Czol- 


gosz was very particular how it was worded, and made 
many corrections in a seemingly interested and ab- 
sorbed manner. At one time he took a pencil, and 
drawing it through a line or more of the statement, said 
"I never said that." Indeed he denied a good deal of 
what had been written down by Mr. Haller in long 
hand. After the confession had been corrected to his 
satisfaction, he signed each page in a very fair hand, 
writing very quickly. Later he denied that he could 
write even his name and he would not write another 
word for anybody during his confinement in Buffalo. 
This interview lasted until about one o'clock. 

When the prisoner wanted his clothes badly enough, 
he told where he had been living, which was at the 
hotel over the saloon run by John Nowak on Broad- 
way, near Fillmore Street and opposite the Market, 
and it was found that his baggage consisted of a '^tele- 
scope" with some clean clothes in it and two early pic- 
tures of himself. Chief Bull had forgotten where Czol- 
gosz had lived in West Seneca and had no record of 
it, and the detective he had sent there was at that time 
away on another case. One of the photographs found 
with Czolgosz's clothing had been given by Chief Bull 
to a Mr. Quackenboss, a lawyer of Buffalo, and the 
other had been loaned to a New York paper which had 
never returned it. Czolgosz was quite indignant to 
think that these had been taken from him. 

He talked freely for three days, after which he would 
not open his mouth on any subject connected with the 
assassination, although he talked freely with the guards 
on other subjects — such as Anarchy, little incidents of 
no moment which had occurred during his life, places 
where he had worked, the scar which he had got while 


working in a wire factory — and discussing other pris- 
oners brought to Headquarters, etc. Chief Bull let me 
read some of the reports of the guards in charge of 
him; they were of no special importance, though the 
first two were rather interesting. These said that on 
September 9th he walked his cell most of the morning; 
after dinner he asked the guard to hang his coat and 
vest outside while he lay down on his cot; that evening 
at eleven o'clock it was reported that he had a nose- 
bleed for about two minutes, when he lay down and it 
seemed better. The night of September 8th he said the 
noise of the insane people over him kept him awake. 
It was denied that the third degree was given Czol- 
gosz, or that he had been ill, with the exception of a 
cold. After being confined a few days he was secreted 
away in the jail, no one but the Chief and one or two 
detectives knowing where he was. Crowds were about 
Headquarters, sometimes numbering as many as 2000 
persons. While in West Seneca, Czolgosz had received 
from Cleveland a $10 money order, under another 
name. The police of Cleveland were written to, and 
they also wrote to San Francisco, but without results 
in either case. The chief said the prisoner had received 
no letters nor telegrams of any consequence from either 
Battle Creek or Indianapolis, but that thousands of 
letters had come to him from all over the country con- 
taining advice, threats, etc. During Czolgosz's con- 
finement, the Chief said, he had been most immaculate 
about his dress and person, washing himself and "fix- 
ing" himself a good deal of the time; he would eat all 
that was given him, and had a little beer each day. The 
prisoner was also allowed two or three cigars a day. 
They were never able to obtain from him any infor- 


mation which would prove where he had spent his 
time from July ist, excepting such as was accounted 
for in Buffalo. They did not know what he had done 
nor where he had spent his time when away from his 
boarding places in Buffalo and West Seneca; it was 
at the time when thousands were visiting the city on 
account of the Fair, and it had been impossible to trace 
any one particular person with so many strangers about. 
No one saw him during his confinement in Buffalo, 
except the examining physicians, the District Attorney 
and his Assistant, and the prison physician; and his 
own counsel he saw only when virtually forced to do 
so. He did not want any counsel and said he did not 
believe in courts. His description and measurements, 
taken at the time, were as follows: "Age 28; height 
5 ft. 7^ inches; weight 138 lbs.; build medium; hair 
brown; eyes blue; complexion medium; born Detroit, 
Mich.; occupation wire worker; scar on left cheek; ar- 
rested Sept. 6th, 1901." You will note that his weight 
taken at Auburn Prison was 141 lbs. on September 
22nd, a gain of three pounds in two weeks. His meas- 
urements were "Outer arm 79.9; trunk 90.0; head 
length 18.7; head width 15.6; right ear length 6.4; left 
foot 26.1 ; left middle finger 1 1.7; left little finger 9.1 ; 
left forearm, measured from olecranon process to tip 
of middle finger, 47.3." 

I interviewed District Attorney Penny who had 
taken down Czolgosz's confession, but who refused to 
show me his notes. He said that the prisoner's story 
was so conflicting that one could not be sure of any- 
thing in it, but that Czolgosz had told him that he had 
earned the money, on which he had been living since 
July I St, and which he had previously invested in a 


farm, working in a wire factory in Cleveland; that he 
had been in West Seneca in July, and that he would not 
acknowledge having been west of Chicago; and that he 
stated why he had killed the President. He had barely 
recited the facts of his early life; he did not mention 
Netrolia nor say much about his family. Penny said that 
when his father, brother and sister came Czolgosz said 
he did not wish to see them, and that he. Penny, did not 
glean any information from them. Penny stated very 
plainly that he wished to say as little as possible — that 
he believed that any writing or talking on this matter 
only kept it before the public and that it had been his 
plan to suppress all that was possible, believing as he 
did that Czolgosz was sane and an anarchist without 
question. He said he had refused Dr. Macdonald per- 
mission to use the confession in his report. 

I next interviewed Dr. Fowler, Prison physician, 
who resided at 131 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo. He 
said that he had been present when both examinations 
of Czolgosz had been made and when he made his 
confession. He gave me a printed report which he 
said contained almost every word of the confession, 
that is all of importance was embodied in this report; 
it contained all that Czolgosz had said to Dr. Fowler 
which had any bearing on the case, and had been made 
up by the three physicians, each pledging himself not 
to give any of its contents to the public until it came 
out officially signed by the three. He said Dr. Putnam 
had broken his promise and allowed himself to be 
interviewed, when the report was immediately put 
forth. Dr. Fowler implied that the reason why Dis- 
trict Attorney Penny did not give the confession to 
Dr. Macdonald" and therefore could not give it to any- 


one else was because Mr. Penny had requested that 
Dr. Fowler and one other expert should be invited to 
the electrocution. Fowler explained that, as he had 
been on the Grounds and had heard the shots, was at 
the Hospital before the President arrived there and 
had seen Czolgosz at least once a day during his con- 
finement in Buffalo (excepting the five days when he 
had been in the jail, but when Fowler only knew he 
had been spirited away somewhere) he naturally 
wanted to see the case to a finish. Dr. Macdonald had 
promised to bring it about, but the evening before the 
electrocution — which took place at seven o'clock in the 
morning — he sent word to Fowler that he was sorry 
he could not do so. Dr. Fowler said: "As Macdonald 
had the power to place me on that jury and could have 
acceded to the District Attorney's request, why should 
the District Attorney give him any papers to look at?" 
Fowler spoke of Czolgosz's extreme cleanliness; told 
how his hair was dishevelled for two or three days 
because he had no comb and brush and said that every 
time he visited Czolgosz the latter asked if he might 
not have these articles, and that he had promised them 
just before the prisoner was spirited away; and he said 
that the only thing he had heard that Czolgosz had 
said during those five days was that the guard had told 
him that Czolgosz had asked several times 'Where 
is the brush and those cigars that Dr. Fowler promised 
me?" Dr. Fowler said he was particular about his 
milk being clear, also the water he drank. He spoke 
of his winding a handkerchief about his hand frequent- 
ly while the doctor was talking with him. For the 
first three days Dr. Fowler said he had talked about 
his crime and how his stepmother worried him; but 


when the physicians came to examine him and first 
asked why he shot the President, he immediately as- 
sumed a different air and said "Did I shoot the Presi- 
dent?" Later in the same interview he acknowledged 
the shooting and made statements which I have given 
in the report of the experts. 

Having information that District Attorney Penny's 
office had Czolgosz's West Seneca address and that 
it could not be obtained elsewhere, I next interviewed 
Assistant District Attorney Haller, who had nothing 
new to tell me about Czolgosz, except his own opinion, 
which was that Czolgosz never read very much and 
that he believed he was a man who went to meetings 
and listened to what people said. After considerable 
search among the papers of the office, he found the 
address of Antoine Kazmarek, Ridge Road, West Sen- 
eca, which he said was the place where Czolgosz had 
stayed for a time. 

With an interpreter, I drove to West Seneca. Leav- 
ing the city, we passed through a farming country, 
acres and acres of which were covered with stubble 
from which corn had been cut. We also passed through 
one or two villages or settlements, and arriving at 
Ridge Road, we located the house where Kazmarek 
had lived, but found that the Kazmarek family had 
moved still further away from the city; and we pro- 
ceeded through a blinding snowstorm along Center 
Street, but were not able to reach their new residence 
except on foot. Crossing a ploughed field we found 
the Kazmareks soon after dusk in a new white house 
of four rooms, and dimly lighted by a kerosene lamp. 
On making known my errand, I was given a chair 
near the stove in the center of a room about ten feet 


square. In this room were three children climbing 
over each other on the floor, a molher nursing her 
baby, a young couple wooing in the corner, two strange 
men, and behind the stove, sitting on a trunk, were 
Antoine Kazrnarek and a Polish friend. Near them 
was a bright boy of seven, the son of Antoine. 

I found Antoine could speak English, and when 
I questioned him he said that one day about the i6th 
or 17th of July, when he and the Polish friend then 
sitting beside him were waiting for a street-car in 
Bufifalo, a well-dressed young man stopped near them 
and passed the time of day and asked the Pole where 
he lived. The latter replied that he boarded out in 
the country with Kazmarek. The young man said that 
he wanted to go out in the country where it was healthy 
— that he did not like the city — and asked if he could 
get board at the same place. Kazmarek told him 
yes, if he had the money. The stranger then asked 
them to go with him to a saloon, where they had a 
glass of beer, after which they went home to West 
Seneca, On arriving at the house the stranger gave 
his name as Fred C. Neiman, and made arrangements 
with Mrs. Kazmarek to lodge him and do his wash- 
ing for three dollars a month, providing he would 
sleep with the Polish friend. The Pole, evidently 
not understanding English, had retired to a corner 
soon after our conversation began, where he was sit- 
ting with his hands folded and his eyes shut as if about 
to go to sleep, when I requested Kazmarek to ask him 
if Neiman's sleep had seemed disturbed. He answered 
that he slept very well, occasionally getting up in the 
night, only to return immediately. The little boy spoke 
up and said that he had slept with Nieman and that 


Nieman never disturbed him nights. Kazmarek said 
that Nieman boarded himself — that he never would 
eat with them; that he lived on milk and crackers. The 
house had been at one time used for a store; Nieman 
would send the little boy out for milk, which he would 
then take to the front room of the house, where he 
would eat by himself on the counter. He did not 
associate with the family, and when urged to join them, 
especially at meal times, he always refused — and one 
time he said he did not wish to eat with ''those fellows" 
— referring to the other boarders. Kazmarek said 
Nieman usually rose before seven, ''washed very care- 
fully, dressed neatly — would come downstairs, stand 
before the glass for a minute or two, looking at him- 
self first on one side then on the other," rearrange his 
collar and necktie and brush any spots off his clothing.* 
Kazmarek said that the days Czolgosz spent out 
there were generally passed as follows: He usually 
took a little walk in the morning; returning he would 
sit on the piazza with his chair tipped back, reading 
pamphlets and papers; early in the afternoon he hired 
the little boy to bring him a paper which he read very 
carefully; and he retired about ten each night. He kept 

• Dr. William A. White, of the Government Hospital for the Insane, 
says in his "Outlines of Psychiatry," speaking of simple dementia: 

". . . In addition, peculiarities of conduct and strange habits develop, the 
desire to be alone, some mannerism or slight evidences of muscular tension 
and simpler manifestations of negativism. ... A study of this class shows 
quite frequently that the patient's resort to a hobo type of existence has been 
the result of his inability to adapt himself to the ordinarily complex con- 
ditions of social life — in other words, that he has slipped from under all 
responsibilities and all conditions which involved continuity of effort and 
industry. He goes from one position to another, unable to fulfill even the 
simplest duties because of his lack of continuity and interest. Such cases 
will show the history of a mild attack, with perhaps the development of a 
dilapidated and incoherent delusional system which subsides and remains 
dormant when the patient gets away from stress. Such patients, when they 
find themselves under conditions of stress that they can not escape from 
. . . quite frequently break down and have to be sent to a hospital." 


by himself and away from the family as much as pos- 
sible and never had any conversation with them unless 
obliged to do so. He never ate once with them. Three 
or four times a week he left quite early for Buffalo, 
returning at half-past nine to half-past ten at night. 
When asked why he went to the city so often, he said 
to attend some meetings. Antoine asked him how he 
got along without working, to which he replied 
that he worked in the winter and lived in the summer 
on what he had earned. Antoine said he always wore 
his Sunday clothes when he went to Buffalo, but on 
further questioning I found that Nieman had only 
one suit of clothes, and that Antoine meant that he 
dressed or tidied up more than usual. When Nieman 
had come to the house he had with him a little canvas 
trunk, as they called the "telescope," which contained 
his belongings. At the end of one month he paid 
three dollars. It was a little over two weeks later when 
Antoine, on coming downstairs one morning at seven 
o'clock, found Nieman arranging his collar, etc., be- 
fore the glass, with his canvas bag packed and ready 
beside him. He told Antoine he was going to leave — 
Antoine thinks this was about August 29th. Instead 
of being as usual very quiet in deep thought or study, 
he seemed in very good spirits, and when asked where 
he was going said "Maybe Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland 
or Baltimore — maybe Pittsburg." When Mrs. Kaz- 
marek asked for a settlement, Nieman said he could 
not pay the $1.75 then due, but finally left them a re- 
volver which he had with him for settlement. This 
revolver Antoine said he had turned over to the police 
at their request, and had never received it back — nor 
the $1.75. Antoine said they looked upon Nieman as 


a rather strange young man, and wondered how he got 
along without working; that neither from his actions 
nor from anything he said had they suspected he was 
going to leave them; and they thought he seemed too 
proud to carry his bag — he paid the boy ten cents to 
carry it for him. Kazmarek added that he never saw 
Nieman take a drink, that he never swore and that he 
smoked only in moderation. 

It is probable that Nieman left Kazmarek's on Au- 
gust 31st instead of the 29th, as on the former date he 
took a room at John Nowak's where his things were 
found by the police after his arrest when his desire 
for clean clothes induced him to give them his address. 
Dr. Fowler told me that he had asked Czolgosz if he 
wanted to see Nowak, and he had replied "No, he is 
nothing but an old pumpkin-head and does not know 
anything anyway." 

Returning to Buflfalo, I called on John Nowak and 
his wife at their saloon on Broadway. Nowak told 
me that a strange young man had come into his saloon 
on August 31st and said that he wanted to engage a 
room and to have his washing done. When asked, as 
was their custom, for recommendations, he said "Oh, 
Dalkowski of Toledo told me to come here — You know 
— he left last night." Nowak said this was true, and 
that he believed the man to be a friend of Dalkowski's, 
who was in the Post Office service in Toledo, and was 
in the habit of stopping with Nowak when he came to 
Buffalo to attend certain "singing conventions." The 
stranger gave his name as Fred Nieman. Nowak said 
that after the assassination he had written to Dalkowski, 
who replied that he had never heard of anyone by the 
name of Nieman or Czolgosz. Evidently Nieman was 


an enigma to John Nowak and his wife. Mrs. Nowak 
told me that they at one time decided he must be a 
waiter or a barber, he dressed so neatly, and at another 
time they decided he was a visitor at the Fair — only 
his hours seemed too regular — that he usually left at 
seven in the morning and returned about ten-thirty at 
night, retiring immediately; that she and her husband 
had often talked him over, and that she thought him 
too proud to speak to them; that if he did not go out 
he remained in his room, but they never knew where 
he got his meals. Only one night when he went out 
did he come home early, and this was the only time he 
sat down in the saloon. It was on a Sunday evening; 
a picnic was going on and a great many people were 
about. He sat at a table and listened. Finally one 
of the picnickers told Nowak he did not believe much 
in priests, and said ''If you have got any money it is 
all right with them — if you haven't they have no use for 
you." After listening to this kind of talk for awhile, 
Nieman spoke up and said that he had been at St. Cas- 
imir's on Sunday morning, and "all the priests talked 
about was money." This ended his conversation, and 
Nowak said that Nieman only drank one or two beers 
with him and that he had been very proud to have a 
boarder — and so young a man — who was so temperate. 
After the assassination the police notified Nowak, he 
said, that they wanted Nieman's "telescope" and asked 
a great many questions which neither he nor his wife 
could answer. 

As there was nothing more to be learned from John 
Nowak and his wife, I returned to my hotel and pre- 
pared to take my departure from Buffalo. I left by 
the 1.40 A. M. train for Detroit, Michigan, where I 


arrived about eight o'clock in the morning on January 

After I had made a few inquiries, I proceeded to 
the village of Howlett in the town of Greenfield, south 
of Detroit. Here I called upon a Mr. J. T. Kerr, who 
lived in a nice little new house in the middle of a field 
about five miles from the city limits. He had just 
returned with his bride from Alpena, Michigan. Mrs. 
Kerr had lived within two blocks of the former home 
of the Czolgosz family. Kerr was a photographer, 
and he gave me views of the house in Detroit where 
Czolgosz was born and of another house in Sable St., 
Alpena, where the Czolgosz family had once resided. 
In response to my inquiries, he told me that Czolgosz 
had a brother Frank, now living in Metz township, 
Presqu' Isle County; that an aunt, Mary Czolgosz, 
was living with her husband, John Nowak, at 515 Lake 
Avenue, Alpena; that Andrew Kakubiak, a well- 
known Polish business man of Alpena, had told him 
that Paul Czolgosz, the father of Leon, was a law- 
abiding citizen. He said that Paul Czolgosz had a 
brother John, a blacksmith, who lived in Krakow, 
Presqu' Isle township; this John had said that Paul 
Czolgosz was born in the Province of Posen, Krais 
Schubin (or County) of Bromberg, village of Haido, 
near Barin. Kerr said that he had heard in Alpena a 
German priest had founded a settlement at Posen, 
Michigan, over which he had ruled with an iron hand, 
making people work under him like slaves. One day 
these people had rebelled and a party of them had 
raided and killed the priest; it was said that Paul Czol- 
gosz had been of this party. 

I took Mr. Kerr with me as guide to show me the 


section of Detroit in which Czolgosz had been born 
and had lived. We went to their house at 141 Benton 
St., of which Kerr had taken a photograph. There 
had been very few houses in the Parish when the Czol- 
gosz family lived there; theirs was one of the only two 
brick houses — a coal store had been built in front of 
it since they had left. They had occupied the first 
floor and a family named Smith the second. A Mrs. 
Mincel and her mother Mrs. Munro, who owned the 
house, had lived on the third floor. Mrs. Mincel had 
since moved to 344 Elliott St., and I interviewed her 

She remembered the Czolgosz family perfectly well' 
— a man and wife and four children, two of whom 
had been born there, one being the boy "Leo," born she 
thinks about 1874, which was the year she was married. 
The Czolgoszes were a law-abiding family; the man 
worked in the city sewers and his wife took in washing. 

After unimportant interviews with Mrs. Mincel and 
others, I called on Jacob J. Lorkowski, at 894 Hastings 
St., who had lived opposite the Czolgosz family on 
Benton St. He came from Prussia, near the town of 
Zninn, the name of which he wrote out for me, saying 
that Paul Czolgosz had come from the same town. 
He thought that Paul had come to Detroit before the 
Chicago fire and had moved to Alpena when his first 
wife died; he had visited Detroit again for a month 
about fourteen years ago. Lorkowski described Paul 
Czolgosz as "foxy" — a good story-teller, who played 
cards and gambled a little, but did not drink much 
and was a hard-working laborer. He just remembered 
that there were children in the family. He said they 
belonged to the Parish of St. Alberta, and that Leon 


had been baptized under the name Czolcholski — but 
he seemed to have no authority for this statement. On 
inquiry I was informed that three priests had searched 
the Parish Records without success for three days and 
two nights to find any name which could be interpreted 
as belonging to a member of the Czolgosz family, and 
sisters who had been teaching in the Parochial School 
for thirty years said they had no memory of this family. 

Through an interpreter I interviewed all the neigh- 
bors, scarcely one of whom spoke a word of English. 
It was a large settlement which had grown from a very 
small once since Czolgosz lived there. Returning to 
the town, I searched the public records and the direc- 
tories for thirty years back, but without avail. 

I then called upon the Superintendent of Police, 
Downey, whom I found very pleasant but of no help 
whatever in my search, as he scarcely knew that the 
Czolgoszes had ever lived in Detroit. He sent for the 
chief of the detective force, McDonnell, who said he 
believed the family had lived in Detroit at one time, 
but he did not know where, and he had no information 
to give me about them. 

I interviewed Dr. G. H. Shelton, who lived on 
Rowland Street, between Grand River Avenue and 
State Street. He told me that he had practiced in 
Alpena from 1872 to 1885 and that he had attended 
the Czolgosz family in a house on the Lake Shore in 
Posen, which was afterwards burned, as well as on 
Sable Street in Alpena. They were a hard-working 
family, good wage earners, and paid him promptly. 
He thought he remembered the father playing cards 
in Alpena, but said he did not consider him a gambler 


as most Poles were card players; Czolgosz worked in 
the lumber yard and the Gilchrist Lumber Mill. 

I returned to Chief McDonnell, who searched the 
police records for some years back, but was unable to 
give me any further information of the Czolgosz fam- 
ily. William McGregor, the County Clerk, said that 
he had searched the records again and again for any 
mention of them, but without success. 

I left Detroit on the 8.40 P. M. train and arrived 
in Cleveland at 8.30 the next morning. This was the 
first of my two visits to Cleveland on this case, both 
of which are covered in the following chapter. 







A little after nine o'clock on the morning of my ar- 
rival in Cleveland, O., I presented my letter of intro- 
duction from Chief Watts of Boston to Superintendent 
of Police George E. Corner. Superintendent Corner 
positively stated that he had been unable to connect 
Czolgosz with Anarchists. When asked about Emil 
Schilling and Walter C. Behlen of the Liberty Associa- 
tion, to whom we shall refer later, he said he had some 
weeks previously broken up a meeting which had been 
organized and was being conducted by Behlen and 
that since that time Behlen had not wanted to have 
anything to do with him. Corner* said that he believed 
Czolgosz had been out of health; that he had gone 
west and was getting homesick, but did not want either 
to remain where he was or go back, after having left 
for his health, so he went to the Buffalo Exposition 
because the fares were cheap. After he got there, Cor- 
ner thought he read in the newspapers that McKinley 
was coming, and wanting to do something to make him- 
self grand in the eyes of the world — and perhaps before 

* Corner was at one time Superintendent of a Hospital for the Insane. 



the Anarchists — he had conceived the idea of assassi- 
nating the President. Corner said that the Golden 
Eagle Society, to which Czolgosz belonged, was a pure- 
ly beneficial society and in no way anarchistic. 

Through Superintendent Corner, I met members of 
the staff of the "Waechter Anzeiger," whose office was 
at 290 Seneca Street. They provided me with an in- 
terpreter, Dr. Ludwig Darmstadter. With him I then 
went to the Wiedenthal Photo Company, 204 Ontario 
Street, who on September 2nd, 1899, had taken the 
photographs found in Leon's bag, and I ordered copies 
of them after first having arranged to have the plates 
washed to eliminate the retouching, so that a truer like- 
ness could be obtained from the negative. 

We then visited the Polish settlement at Newburg, 
which is a suburb incorporated within the city and is 
the center of the Polish district. I first went to the 
residence of Leon's father, Paul Czolgosz, at 306 Fleet 
Street. On entering the house I found everything in 
confusion, the furniture piled up in the process of 
moving. The only members of the family at home 
were the daughter Victoria, and the two children of 
the stepmother who, I should judge, were about three 
and five years old, chubby, healthy-looking children, 
not showing the characteristics which I later observed 
in the children of the first wife, but rather those of 
their own mother. 

Victoria said they were that day moving to 317 Ken- 
yon Street, where her father had bought a house. She 
was a comely girl with light hair, fair skin, hazel eyes 
and a well-developed figure. The bridge of her some- 
what retrousse nose was flattened and looked as if it 
might have been injured by an accident. 


She was rather reserved in her answers at first, but 
finally told us that her father was now working in the 
city street department. He had applied for work on 
September yth and had been told to come back on the 
following Monday morning. She said that at about 
this time he had heard of the act of his son; this was 
the first news he had had from Leon since the latter 
left home, with the exception of one letter which had 
come from Ft. Wayne, Indiana, a few days after his 
departure from Cleveland and which, if it still existed, 
she had not now in her possession. Victoria said she 
had been born in Alpena and was then eighteen years 
of age; John, aged 22, and Selia, aged 24, had also 
been born in Alpena; while Leon, who she thought 
would have been about twenty-five years old, had been 
born in Detroit; the family had left Detroit about 
twenty years ago and had lived in Posen, Michigan, 
for three or four years until her mother had died about 
sixteen years ago, when she (Victoria) was two years 
of age. She said her mother's maiden name was Mary 
Novak; after the mother's death they had moved to 
Alpena, where they had lived for three years; a year 
and a half after her mother's death her father had mar- 
ried Katren Metzfaltr; at that time he had been work- 
ing on a boat. 

Our conversation was here interrupted by the return 
of the team for the furniture, and Paul Czolgosz, his 
wife and his son Jacob came in. All seemed more or 
less confused and did not wish to discuss matters in 
any way. They did not stop their work, but continued 
loading furniture, paying little attention to the ques- 
tions with which I was plying Victoria, except to try 


to get her to help them. While they were still busy, 
I got Victoria to ask her stepmother, a woman of me- 
dium size with a rather red face without much expres- 
sion, some questions, from which I gleaned the follow- 

There had been no mills in Alpena when they were 
there; Leon had attended the parochial school, and the 
name of the priest was Sklizek; Leon had afterwards 
gone to the public school for a short time, but had been 
taken from school when they left Alpena for Netronia 
and after a little time had started to work there in the 
glass factory; after having lived a year and nine months 
in Netronia they had come to Cleveland. 

Victoria described her brother as a nice boy (but 
rather lazy), of whom she had been very fond. She 
said he would read and sleep a good deal of the time; 
that he would not eat with the rest of the family; that 
he was unable to work on account of his health, but 
was fond of gunning. She told me that he could not 
get along with his stepmother; they were always nag- 
ging each other; he never swore, but he came pretty 
near it in talking to her. She also said he did not drink 
nor smoke very much and that he did not like to be 
around with people — he preferred being alone. Vic- 
toria had formerly been a waitress in a hotel in some 
other city but had come home when she heard the news 
about Leon. It is said that she had left home, as did 
Leon — simply went off. There were other members 
of the family also who had not been heard of for years, 
nor were their whereabouts known. 

The father, Paul Czolgosz, was a rather rough- 
looking man. I saw but little of him at this time, but 


had a better opportunity to observe him the following 
day, and the result of my observation of him is as fol- 

He had dark brown hair mixed with grey; mous- 
tache much the same, heavy on a prominent upper lip; 
heavy eyebrows that gave the eyes a sunken appear- 
ance, although they were really not so. The eyes were 
blue, pupils contracted. He had a habit of winking 
slowly, sitting perfectly immobile — while posing for 
his picture I think he did not move a hair's breadth in 
four or five minutes. His skin was rough and fur- 
rowed ; his ears were heavy, developed backwards, and 
standing out from his head, with a great deal of hair 
on the tragus. The angle of his head was about 50 or 
60 degrees, so that when he put his hat on it set well 
back on his head and down behind his ears. His lower 
jaw and that of his son Waldek show an arrest of de- 
velopment, the father's being weaker on the right side, 
producing an asymmetrical chin, flattened in front — 
almost drawn in. His nose (and that of every one of 
the children whom I saw later, by the first wife) had 
the effect of having sustained a blow on the bridge, 
flattening and deforming it at this point without ar- 
resting its growth, — rather showing a hypertrophy of 
the turbinated bones and septum; in some members of 
the family the nose shows more development on one 
side than on the other, making it appear deflected. 
There was an osseous deposit about the joints of Paul's 
fingers, which were short for a man of his size, though 
I could not get any definite history of rheumatism. He 
could not speak a word of English, but when asked by 
the interpreter about his health he said "Sometimes 
sick, but not very much — usually a cold, nothing more." 





8 "i 

O f^l .jj 


With difficulty I elicited the following information: 
He had bought the farm of which Leon owned a 
share for $460. When interviewed he was working for 
the street department of the city, being employed in 
the parks. His son Frank, who lived in or near Al- 
pena, had married a girl named Kuskiewicz. As to 
the family history — he said that he had been born in 
Gora, about half a mile from Rznin in Prussia; his 
first wife, Mary Nowak, was born in Pakoscy, about 
ten miles from Gora. They had been married in Prus- 
sia, and Waldek and two other children had been born 
there. Leon's paternal grandfather had died at the age 
of 40 of a severe cold, the paternal grandmother had 
died of old age at 72. The maternal grandmother had 
died when 30 years old of some ''blood disease"; Paul 
did not know the cause of his wife's father's death, as 
it had occurred after he had come to this country. 
Leon's aunt, his mother's sister Ann, was "out of her 
head" for some time before she died. Paul said that 
this had occurred after he had left Prussia, but that 
the family had written him about it and he knew she 
was "crazy"; whether or no she had died insane he 
could not tell. 

Paul said that he had preceded his family to Amer- 
ica and had settled in Detroit, where his wife and 
family had joined him later. He had a brother in 
Michigan whose name was Woczich Czolgosz. He 
could give no dates — said he never could remember 
them, and had apparently lost track of time. Leon 
was born about a month after his mother had arrived 
in Detroit. She was thirty years old at that time. When 
the boy was about ten or twelve years old she was taken 
very ill at the birth of a child in Posen, Michigan, 


and her husband took her to his brother's house in Al- 
pena, so as to be near doctors; but she gradually grew 
worse and died, about six weeks after childbirth. While 
she was very ill before her death, she would sometimes 
talk to herself — When asked to repeat some of the 
things she had said, Paul could only remember her 
saying '*My children, the time will come when you 
will have greater understanding and be more learned." 
During her illness she would get up and walk about 
the floor. This was all the family history I could ob- 
tain from Paul Czolgosz. 

Concerning Leon, he remembered that the priest 
who had baptized him was Father Gerick, who later 
went to the southwest and died there. As a little child, 
Leon was always quiet and retiring and would not play 
with other children. Except that it was hard for him 
to get acquainted with children, he was in most ways 
like an ordinary child. So far as the father could re- 
member, he had never had convulsions nor fits nor any 
of the diseases of childhood — if he had ever been ill, 
the mother had looked after him, but Paul did not 
think he had ever called a doctor to see Leon. The 
boy was not quick-tempered and was fairly obedient. 
When punished for disobedience he would not say any- 
thing, but the father said that he could tell by his looks 
that he was thinking more than most children could 
say. He had times of not wanting to do as he was told, 
but perhaps not more frequently than other children. 
Altogether Leon had been to school for five and a half 
years, which included six months at evening school in 
Cleveland. As he grew older he was still very bash- 
ful — in fact he was always bashful and the father did 
not understand how he could so suddenly have devel- 


oped a violent disposition if he was not insane. He did 
not think that Leon could have been responsible. He 
said his son had not been a very hard worker because 
he was ill, but he liked to read. He was a light eater. 
The father remembered no chum or intimate acquain- 
tance of either sex that Leon had ever had* He never 
saw him in the company of any girl. When told that 
it seemed that Leon must have had some female asso- 
ciates and that he had said in Buffalo that the reason 
he did not like girls was because one had "gone back 
on him," Paul said that the year before Leon had often 
gone into the city from the farm, where they then 
lived, for several days at a time — from one to five days. 
They never knew why he went, but did not think it 
strange, because of his secretive disposition. Perhaps 
he had known some girl in town. He knew of no 
friends or acquaintances that Leon had ever had at 
Ft. Wayne, Battle Creek or Indianapolis, as reported. 
The F which appeared in Leon's name was without 
significance; he put it in because he liked the extra 

I persuaded Paul Czolgosz to accompany me to have 

*Dr. White says: "In the subject of [dementia precox] the original impetus 
has been weak — only sufficient to carry him a short way, and when its 
force is spent development stops and the retrograde process is hastened or 
perhaps immediately initiated by some physical or mental stress occurring 
at the critical point of puberty and adolescent evolution. As the French 
have it, these patients are 'stranded on the rock of puberty'. . . . Jung, in 
his analysis (of cases of dementia precox) has specially called attention to 
the buried complexes with resulting symptoms, while Meyer considers the 
condition more from a biological standpoint as being the result of continued 
inability to adjust with the development of unhealthy biological reactions. 
Recent studies would indicate that these difficulties arise in people of pecu- 
liar character make-up — more particularly those who have what is termed a 
"shut-in" character. These persons do not meet difficulties openly and 
frankly, they are inclined to be seclusive, not to make friends, to have no one 
to whom they are close and with whom they can talk over things. They do 
not come into natural and free relation with the realities, are apt to be 
prudes, over-scrupulous, and exhibit a sentimental religiosity." 


his picture taken by Charles Horton and Co., 121 Eu- 
clid Avenue. He dressed for the occasion in his best 
clothes with a small button-picture of Leon pinned 
through a black ribbon on the lapel of his coat. Mrs. 
Paul Czolgosz was visited, but was not inclined to talk, 
nor would Mrs. Bandowski vouchsafe any informa- 

I saw Paul's brother, Michael Czolgosz and his 
wife. They were living at 112 Hosmer St. They 
could give me no further information as to Leon's early 
life. They said they had looked upon him as a sort of 
''old 'woman'' "a grandmother," and they seemed to 
have called him these names on account of his habits 
of falling asleep and of being at times rather stupid, 

I next interviewed the principal of the Union Street 
School, where Leon and his brother Waldek had at- 
tended evening sessions — about 1897, the latter thought 
— but gained no information there, as no records had 
been kept of Polish pupils who came for a short time, 
and it was impossible to identify their teachers. 

I then called on the wife of Leon's brother "J^^^" 
Czolgosz. She seemed a rather intelligent and sensible 
young woman about 23 years of age. She said she had 

♦The Boston Daily Globe of Sept. 6th, 1912, says in an editorial: 
"Paul Czolgosz of Cleveland, Ohio, father of the misguided young man 
who took the life of President McKinley, has since suffered without com- 
plaint from the shame and ignominy brought upon his family, but a few 
days ago he was taunted too much for his son's rash act by five unfeeling 
men, and in anger struck one of his tormentors. He was arrested on charge 
of assault and battery, but was acquitted when the circumstances of the case 
were made known. Judge Levine, who presided, rightly observed that the 
father was not responsible for the sins of his son. The Bible says that the 
iniquities of the father are visited upon the children of the third and fourth 
generation, but it does not hold a father responsible for his son's acts and of 
course it was cruel for the men to annoy Mr. Czolgosz. Judge Levine took 
a very practical view of the matter and in dismissing the prisoner said: 
'You should have whipped the whole bunch.' That sentiment, although not 
found in the Bible, fits the case." 


known the family for some time before her marriage 
to Jake on June 23rd, 1901. At that time she thought 
Leon was odd and not like other boys, and that he was 
'^acting very queerly." He had said that he was sick, 
but she had been unable to see that he was and "if you 
said anything to him about his sickness he would get 
mad." He had told her that he wanted to sell out and 
go west for his health and she thought it would be a 
good thing for him to go away, as he acted so queerly, 
and so she had advanced him the money on his share 
of the farm. Later they sold the farm at a sacrifice, 
and if they had collected all the money $50 or $60 
would still be due Leon. For four or five years before 
leaving home Leon had been living on the farm and 
had not been doing anything but catching rabbits, etc. 
He had a cough when she was there and would "spit 
out great chunks." She said that he was lazy and that 
instead of working he would go out under a tree and lie 
down and sleep. His stepmother had tried to "get him 
to work," but he would not. She did not believe him 
sick. Before he went away he had said he was going 
to Kansas and the stepmother had said it would be 
a good thing as he was always "making a fuss with 
her." He would call her names such as "old woman," 
etc., when he was angry with her. They always called 
Leon "Fred" on the farm. His sister-in-law also said 
that he played with the children, of whom he seemed 
very fond — providing he knew them. He talked child- 
ish talk with them, but if anyone came he would turn 
around and talk differently. He was always fixing 
wheels and boxes and tinkering around, but he never 
did any hard work on the farm. His actions and the 
way he behaved with children made her say more than 


once that he must he crazy, because he would do such 
childish things. He always took the milk from the 
barn to the cheese-house, and never avanted anyone to 
go with him. For three or four months before he went 
away he would not eat anything at the table, and lived 
on bread and milk, with sometimes a little cake. He 
would take this up to his room and eat there. He drank 
about two quarts of milk a day and sometimes more. 
She said her husband, Jake, had told her Leon had 
never looked at a girl. He never talked much and "did 
not like it if you talked to him too much"; he liked to 
be let alone; he retired early and slept a great deal. 
He was always called "cranky" at home. On the farm 
he did not "dress up well," but was "all ragged out." 
The day that she had given him $70 as his share of 
$260 a change had come over him and he had seemed 
quite happy. That very day he left. He went up- 
stairs, dressed in his best clothes and went out, taking 
nothing with him but what he had on his back. He 
did not want the parents to know that he was going; 
he told his sister-in-law that he was going to Kansas, 
but to his sister he said that he was going to California 
for his health. After about four or five days he wrote to 
them from Ft. Wayne. This letter, which had been 
addressed to Victoria, she had torn up and burned, as 
there was nothing of importance in it and she expected 
to hear from him again. In it he had said that he was 
in good health and hoped they were — that he did not 
know where he was going but would write them later. 
The sister had been worrying for some time since receiv- 
ing this letter, believing that he must be dead until the 
news came that he had killed the President. 

This sister-in-law said that Bandowski, the husband 


of Leon's sister Selia had gone off in the same manner 
as Leon, without saying good-bye. He and his wife 
had left the week before. He had lost his job because 
he had stayed away so long in Buffalo and Auburn, 
but she thought they had made that an excuse for dis- 
charging him. No one knew where he had gone. Vic- 
toria had been stopping with Bandowski and his wife, 
but when they went away she had returned to her par- 
ents, and Waldek was now occupying the rooms which 
the Bandowskis had had. She said that the family 
were all mad with her, because she had said that if 
Leon were her own brother she would tear him to 
pieces — Waldek, Selia and her husband had all taken 
the part of Leon. She said that Bandowski had been 
the secretary of the Socialist society for some time. 
Continuing her account of the family, she said that 
John was now farming in North Dakota, Frank in the 
lumber mills in Michigan; Michael had driven a 
baker's wagon for a time and had then joined the reg- 
ular Army; but when last heard from he was in a fac- 
tory at Barbenton, Ohio. Joseph was working in the 
packing department of the Cleveland Provision Com- 
pany. Her husband, Jake, was loafing at the present 
time, but he used to work in the wire works. 

The Jacob Czolgoszes lived in a very decent tene- 
ment on the first floor of a small house. The parlor 
was neatly furnished, pictures on the wall and the apart- 
ment clean. Jacob and his wife were clean and neat 
in dress, giving the impression of respectable, honest 

Later I succeeded in getting an interview with Jacob. 
Czolgosz, who was about five years younger than Leon. 
Jake was about the average in height, hollow chested 


with a flat abdomen, so that the body formed a curve 
from his chin to his feet. He was a large-boned, gawky- 
looking fellow, having the characteristic family nose 
already described. He had been married the previous 
summer and said he was not then working but lived 
on a pension of $30 a month which he was paid by the 
United States Government on account of the loss of 
one finger and the partial disablement of the hand and 
arm on the same side, incurred as the result of an ex- 
plosion while he was in the service of the Ordnance 
Department at Sandy Hook. He had also served in 
the Heavy Artillery before being assigned to the Ord- 
nance Department. He at first objected very seriously 
to having his picture taken, but later consented to have 
a photograph taken in his own house. Later he seemed 
willing to talk. 

He said he had noticed a change in Leon after his 
illness — that he was more given to being by himself 
and less inclined to talk. He was the only member of 
the family who took his meals alone, which he always 
did when his stepmother was around. Jacob now 
thought this had been a strange thing for Leon to do. 
He frequently dropped asleep in the daytime, without 
any explanation whatever; he never got excited; "He 
was handy with tools." He once had taken to pieces 
a clock which would not go and put it together again 
so that it ran perfectly. Jake said he had not noticed 
any change in Leon's physical appearance after his ill- 
ness. He had never known him to have anything to 
do with any girl nor with any Anarchists or Socialists. 
He was fond of reading and the best educated member 
of the family. Jake said that he himself had worked 



for a year at the mill under the name of Crawley, be- 
cause his own name was hard to pronounce. 

My next interview was with Mr. and Mrs. A. Dryer, 
at 133 Hosmer Street. Mr. Dryer had bought out 
Paul Czolgosz's saloon on Third Avenue, and had run 
it until some six or seven years ago, when he had moved 
into his present quarters. Dryer seemed like an honest 
man, who might perhaps be too much inclined to drink 
beer. He had lost the sight of one eye. His wife was 
a big, stout, rough-looking woman. Both seemed hon- 
est in their endeavor to give truthful accounts of their 
observations, and their evidence was valuable as they 
had known Leon and his family for a good many years. 
He said that he and his wife had probably seen Leon 
more frequently than anyone else had seen him before 
he moved into the country. During the period that 
Leon had worked in the wire mill he spent most of his 
spare time and his "days off" loafing in their saloon. 
The only chum Mr. Dryer ever knew of Leon's ever 
having — if he could be called a chum — was a man 
named Jugnatz Lapka, who now lived in Fullerton 
Street. Dryer said that Lapka used to work in the 
same factory with Leon, and that they walked back and 
forth together — and he called this association more 
intimate than Leon was in the habit of having with 
anyone else. — I later made two unsuccessful attempts 
to call upon Lapka, but in any case he had not seen 
much of Leon for three or four years. — Dryer said 
that Leon used to come into the saloon after his work, 
wash up and sit down to read the paper, which he was 
always very anxious to get. That he sat by himself in 
the corner and watched the others play cards, but 


would never play himself, except when specially urged 
to make up a fourth hand; then he never played for 
much and if he lost anything he usually stopped play- 
ing. Neither Dryer nor his wife had ever heard Leon 
swear or use profane language. They never saw him 
lose his temper, though he was plagued in and about 
the saloon about the girls to whom he never seemed 
to have the courage to speak. He was looked upon 
there as an onanist, but no one had ever had proof 
of this. If he came into the saloon with dirty shoes, 
he asked Mr. Dryer for a shoe brush and brushed his 
shoes before sitting down. He often fell asleep in the 
saloon, then waked up and sat around until he perhaps 
fell asleep again. Mrs. Dryer said that it seemed 
strange to her that he could ever have perpetrated such 
a violent act as the assassination of the President, as 
he would never kill a fly in the saloon. He used to 
brush them off, or perhaps catch them and let them 
go again, but he never killed one. He would not even 
step on a worm. He was especially careful with his 
money, never spending more than was absolutely nec- 
essary, and he never took more than one drink of any 
kind of liquor at a time. Dryer said that sometimes 
they teased him about not spending his money, saying 
"Oh, come on! Blow yourself off!" — but he answered 
*'No, I have use for my money." He was never jolly. 
Mr. Dryer described him as ''rather stupid and dull- 
like." They said that he had come in one day about 
five years before and told them that he had left the 
wire works because he was sick, and that certainly for 
five or six months he had always been taking medicine, 
carrying a bottle and a box of pills in his pocket. He 
never had much to say to anybody and never talked to 


strangers. He never danced — said he did not care for 
dancing. When he was not working he sometimes sat 
all day in the saloon, "thinking-like," reading the paper 
and sleeping.* 

Dryer said Czolgosz belonged to the social club of 
which his brother-in-law, Bandowski, was secretary, 
but he had never spoken in public in the club or taken 
any prominent part that they knew of. The club had 
finally split, part of it going to the Debs party and part 
to the Social Democrat Party, and was not in existence 
at that time — or if still in existence, had few members. 
Mr. Dryer said that the association to which Leon be- 
longed when he wrote the letter which was printed in 
the German paper was purely a benefit association 
among the Poles — ^when any one member died the 
others all paid in so much money. The name of this 
benefit association was the Golden Eagle. There were 
several such associations to help the poor people with 
funeral expenses, etc., in case of a death in the family. 
Dryer said Leon would never enter into any row or 
take sides with anyone who was in a row. To illustrate, 
he told of once having seen the brother, Jake Czolgosz, 
across the street with a party returning from a dance, 
in the center of a crowd who were trying to knife him. 
Dryer called out to Leon "Aren't you going out to help 
your brother? He is in trouble." But Leon replied 
"No. If he will associate with those Polaks he will 
have to take the consequences," and turned and contin- 
ued to read his paper. Dryer said that the Polish name 

•White says, "The origin of simple dementia is insidious and it may be 
quite impossible to fix its date, largely because the beginning symptoms were 
not appreciated at their true value. ... At first the patient begins to show 
a lack of interest in things, ceases going out and associates less and less with 
others. There is a general listless, apparently lazy and tired-out attitude 
toward life assumed." 


of the section where Leon had formerly lived and in 
which he himself resided was "Warshau," and that it 
was in this section that Leon had gone to evening school 
while still at work five years before. 

Mrs. Dryer said that jA^ had urged Leon many times 
to eat with them, but only once did he consetit after 
much persuasion, and then he had sat at the table and 
eaten very little. From what she knew of him she 
would say that "he was rather fond of cake, but not 
fond of meat or heavy things." 

From the above and much more I learned, it would 
seem, that about 1897 Leon began to exhibit hypochon- 
driacal symptoms, and that this condition made itself 
evident up to the time that he went to Buffalo. 

On inquiry I found that Leon had consulted the fol- 
lowing physicians: Dr. J. Sykora, 1453 Broadway, 
Newburg, Ohio; Dr. Koller, 1538 Broadway, New- 
burg; Dr. Parker of the Cleveland General Hospital, 
and Dr. Rosenwasser, Woodland Avenue near Forest 
Street, Cleveland. I spent some time with Dr. Sykora, 
who tried to identify Leon, but could not do so, and 
the other physicians were equally unsuccessful, with 
the exception of Dr. Rosenwasser. Dr. M. Rosen- 
wasser gave me a copy of the following entry from his 
office case book: 

April 28th, 1898. — Czolgosz, Leon, 23, Worker in wire mill — 
Res. 319 Cowan St.; — Sick two yrs. ; short breath (catarrh) — 
palpitations — some wheezing at apices — emphysema (?). 

R. Potass. lodid %{, Tinct. Nux. vomic. § fs av §iv. 

Nov. 1st, 1898. — Has been better throughout summer — worse 
past two months — wheezing — aches all over — Pulse 64 — respiration 
25 — Examination negative. 

R. Strych sulph. 1/30 gr. 


I next drove out to a little wooden house on Marcel- 
line Street, behind a block of houses fronting on Broad- 
way and, reaching the upper story by an outside stair- 
case, found Leon's second brother, Waldek, and a 
rather rough-looking man with one eye in a small attic 
room which contained only a stove, three chairs and 
a table with a dirty red cover on it and a sort of book- 
shelf containing some books and pamphlets. Waldek 
was rather short in stature, but fairly stout, strong and 
thickset. He had the characteristic large mouth which 
I had observed in his father and in most of the children 
except Joseph; his face also was much the shape of 
his father's, except that his nose was very short show- 
ing, however, the flattened bridge. His eyes were gray, 
pupils dilated; his skin was smooth and his complexion 
florid; the hair light brown. His face showed an ar- 
rest of development of the lower jaw, giving an undue 
prominence to the upper lip, which was covered with 
a moustache, standing up like his father's, but reddish 
instead of brown. I should say that there had been 
an arrest of development of the bones of the nose, giv- 
ing a very solid nose showing an upward tendency from 
the base to the point; and he had much the same heavy 
eye which, from the description, Leon also had. He 
looked rather sleepy at times while talking to me, as 
if it were hard for him to open his eyes wide. Waldek 
wore a button picture of his brother Leon in the lapel 
of his coat. 

At first he wanted to know my business and said he 
had had enough of doctors; they had treated him badly 
in Buffalo and Auburn. Here I found the one-eyed 
man rather helpful, as he encouraged Waldek to talk. 


Waldek corroborated the family history as already told 
by his father. He gave the date of his father's arrival 
in the United States as New Year's day, 1873, and said 
that his mother with her three children arrived in 
May of the same year. As he told the story, they re- 
mained in Detroit for about three years and then went 
to Rogers City, Michigan, about 40 miles from Alpena, 
where his father worked in the colony established by 
Mr. Molliter, who owned ''all the country about." 
Molliter was killed, Waldek said, at the instigation of 
a rival in business — someone interested in the same sort 
of work at a nearby place. He claimed that his father 
was not in Rogers City when Molliter was killed, Wal- 
dek repeated substantially the same story already told 
of the removal to Alpena, where his father worked 
in the docks for a man named Fletcher, shipping lum- 
ber, for which he received from 25 to 30 cents an hour; 
and thence to the farm at Posen, where they had lived 
for five years, at the end of which time they sold it to a 
man named Rambuski and returned to Alpena, where 
his father had bought land and built the house on Sable 
Street. Leon was old enough to go to school at that 
time. Most of the time he went to a Polish parochial 
school, but was attending the public school at the time 
they left Alpena. The records of their births, etc., had 
all been burned some years previously, when a portion 
of Alpena was destroyed by fire, including, Waldek 
thought, the house in which they had first lived. He 
said that during the three or four years that Leon went 
to the public school he was considered "the best scholar 
of them all." They were in Michigan for sixteen years 
in all, finally leaving Alpena because the work was 
dull and going to Netronia, about twenty miles from 


Pittsburg. Waldek said that they had no relations of the 
same name in Buffalo, but that his mother had a brother 
in Michigan, in or near Alpena. He was quite sure 
that Leon did not go to school in Netronia, but that he 
almost immediately got to work at the bottle works. 
There his duties consisted in carrying bottles red hot 
on forks to the different ovens, that they might cool 
off gradually. He did not remember that Leon had 
ever read very much there — the days were so long and 
they got pretty tired. Leon earned seventy-five cents 
a day until the last six months when he got a dollar a 
day. Their father had worked in the Philadelphia 
Diamond Chemical Works at the same time and place. 
About 1892 the family had first moved to Newburg 
where they now resided, and Paul had built a saloon 
on the corner of Third Avenue, which he ran for five 
months, after which he rented it to the Findlay Beer 
Company. When Leon worked in the Newburg Wire 
Mills, from 1892 to 1897, the work was so arranged 
that he worked ten hours a day for one or two weeks 
and then had twelve hours' night work for a similar 
period. He was paid $16 or $17 for the two weeks of 
his day work, and $22, then $24, for the two weeks of 
his night work. His first work was on galvanized fence 
wire, afterwards he was given more fancy work to do. 
During the time that he did day work he attended 
night school with his brother Waldek for about three 
months one winter. 

About 1893 or 1894 Waldek said that Leon, with a 
great many others was laid off after a strike, and that 
at that time he changed — '^got quiet and not so happy." 
This gives the date of 18Q4 as the first time that Leon's 
illness was observed. A list of the names of those who 


had struck was given to a new foreman, not the one 
under whom Leon had previously worked, so that after 
six months, when he applied for work again under the 
name of Fred C. Nieman, he had obtained employ- 
ment. Waldek thought the foreman probably knew 
that some of the men who applied for work at that 
time were the same who had struck, but they were re- 
employed under their new names as the works were 
short of men. Waldek said that Leon would not drink 
nor swear, "but would kick — kick like hell" if urged 
to drink. Leon was cool — never got mad, he said, but 
if plagued or provoked would not talk. He was sure 
Leon never had any girl with whom he associated — 
he was quite sure that he, Waldek, would have known 
had Leon had any girl friend. 

Up to about 1893 or 1^94 when the strike came Wal- 
dek said he and his brother were strict attendants at 
the Catholic Church. Until then they had always be- 
lieved what the priest taught them — that if they were 
in need or trouble and prayed their prayers would be 
answered. He said that at the time of the strike they 
both prayed very hard, but they got no answer. They 
then went to the priest and said that they wanted proof, 
and they wxre again told that they would be helped if 
they would pray. But no help came. So they, Leon 
and Waldek, bought a Polish Bible, and concluded 
after reading it over four or five times together that 
the priests had "told their own way," and had kept 
back most of what was in the book. He said that they 
had then made the acquaintance of one or two people 
who shared their opinions, and he remembered that 
Leon had once said to one of these men that he believed 
"the priest's trade was the same as the shoemaker's or 


any other." They then got other books and pamphlets 
about the Bible and on other subjects and studied them 
— and then, he said, they ''knew how it was." They 
read these books regularly, buying them in Cleveland 
and sometimes sending to New York for them. One 
of the first books they had studied was a red book with 
a picture of a devil on the outside — he thought it was 
called "The Free-thinker," or that those words were 
used in the title somewhere. They had continued read- 
ing together until within a year and a half of Leon's 
death. Lately Leon had preferred to read alone and 
had read a great deal more than his brother. When 
Waldek was asked where some of these books were, 
he said that Leon had burned up almost everything 
in the way of letters or books before he left home, but 
added that he and Bandowski still had a few of his 
books, especially one of Edward Bellamy's which he 
said Leon had studied for seven or eight years. After 
hunting around for the books he found a little pile of 
them under the sloping roof. He had perhaps a dozen 
pamphlets, but did not seem to wish to part with them. 
Finally I purchased a few, which Waldek said were 
the identical books which Leon had studied up to a 
short time before he went away. I asked him about 
one of them, the "Peruna Almanac," and he said Leon 
had liked that because it always told him his lucky 
days. Waldek said that at the time they read together 
Leon did not believe that there was no God, but that 
the priests had deceived them. He thought that Leon 
had not read the Bible for about a year and a half be- 
fore his death. 

In 1897, Waldek said, Leon left work because he 
was ill. He went to several doctors (whom I have 


previously mentioned) who told him that he ought to 
stop work at once. 

The family had then, 1897, moved to Orange town- 
ship, four miles from Warrensville, where they had 
bought a farm of fifty-five acres, the boys paying in 
what money they had saved — Waldek said Leon had 
saved about $50 which he had deposited in the Staf- 
ford Bank on Broadway. 

While on the farm Waldek said Leon would go half 
a mile every afternoon for his paper and would read 
all the papers he could get in English or Polish, being 
particularly interested in everything pertaining to 
working men, strikes, etc. Since he had been old enough 
to be independent, Leon had not obeyed his stepmother 
very well, but not until he had left work and gone to 
live on the farm with her did they get to calling each 
other names. The stepmother had never believed Leon 
to be ill and thought he ought to work like the others. 
Leon felt that she had no right to tell him what he 
ought or ought not to do. While on the farm Leon 
did not do heavy work; the first year he said he could 
not work, and the next year and thereafter he said he 
was all right, but refused to do heavy work unless 
obliged to do so — said he did not care for it, though 
he was not unwilling to take a hand when it was neces- 
sary. Most of his time was spent in repairing old ma- 
chinery and wagons on the farm, and, as Waldek said, 
he ''fussed about with small things." He also traded 
horses occasionally, and Waldek remembered that he 
had got badly "left" at least once. He did not even 
watch the others work, but preferred to be away from 
them by himself, doing his little ''odd jobs," or reading 
or sleeping. Once during this time he applied for a 


conductor's job on the electric railroad of the Stanley 
Company, but was unsuccessful ; and Waldek knew of 
no other attempt on Leon's part to get work since 1897. 

According to Waldek Leon was a good hunter. He 
owned a breech-loading shotgun, and beginning early 
in the fall and up to as late in the winter as he could 
trap rabbits, he would start off almost every morning 
for rabbits and "big squirrels." He usually carried 
a shotgun, a revolver and a stick, and sometimes a bag. 
If the rabbit was some distance away he would shoot 
him with the shotgun; if he were nearer, Leon would 
use the revolver, with which he was quite skillful. The 
stick he used in this way: — he would take the sack and 
cover one end of a rabbit hole, then with the long stick 
he would drive the rabbit out from the other end into 
the bag. Sometimes he would build a fire at the other 
end to drive the rabbit into the bag, when he would kill 
it with the stick or a club. He would sometimes get 
a rabbit into a hole in a tree or wall and catch it with 
the sack in the same way. Waldek remembered his 
bringing home three live rabbits in the sack one day 
which he had caught in this manner. 

Waldek said that about three years before our inter- 
view Leon had felt so ill that he had advised him to 
go to the hospital, but Leon had said ^'There is no place 
in the hospital for poor people; if you have lots of 
money you will get well taken care of I" 

In March or April Waldek said Leon became quite 
restless and wanted to get his money out of the farm 
so that he could leave, and he kept up this talk about 
getting his money until July, at times getting quite put 
out that he could not realize on his share of the prop- 
erty. From that time he commenced his trips to the 


city — that is, it was thought he went to the city. At 
first he went one day a week; a little later he 
would go off for two or three days, and then he would 
go one week one day and the next week two or three 
days more regularly. When asked where he went, he 
said he went to attend meetings. They thought it was 
meetings of the Golden Eagle, but as he was naturally 
secretive they did not question him, beyond making 
a few inquiries. Several times in March and April 
Leon had said *'If I can not have my money now, I 
want it this summer." He said he was going west in 
the summer. In July he said to Waldek, "I would 
like to have my money for my share on the farm — get 
me what you can." Waldek did not do much about it, 
and a little later Leon said ^'I must have the money.'* 
Waldek asked "What can you want the money for?" — ■ 
They were standing near a tree that was dying and 
Leon said "Look: it is just the same as a tree that com- 
mences dying — You can see it isnt going to live long." 
Another day Waldek asked Leon how he could live if 
he went west, telling him that his share of the money 
would be so small it would not carry him far; Leon 
replied "I can get a conductor's job, or binding wheat 
or fixing machines, or something." Just before Leon 
went away he told Waldek he had to go away and must 
have the money. Waldek said, "To why you go away 
so far? What is the matter with you?" Leon answered 
''/ can't stand it any longer." Waldek said that when 
he went away he seemed changed — he had brightened 
up a good deal. He dressed upstairs, came down and 
walked right out of the house. He had not told his 
stepmother anything about his movements for a good 
many years, and he did not tell things to his father, for 


the latter always told them to the stepmother. He left 
on July I ith, and on July 14th he wrote the letter from 
Ft. Wayne, of which I publish a copy, saying that he 
was going further west. On July 30th he wrote the 
letter which appeared in the German paper — I had the 
original, which was written in red ink, photographed 
by the same people who had taken Leon's picture. 

After receiving the letter from Ft. Wayne they did 
not see nor hear from Leon again until after the assas- 
sination of the President, when Waldek went to Buffalo 
and later to Auburn to see him. Waldek said that he 
always talked to Leon in English when they were alone, 
and when he went down to the cell for the first time 
they shook hands and Leon said, "Is anybody else with 
you?" Waldek replied, "No" — but asked if he would 
like to see any of the family. Leon said yes, he would 
like to see his father if he came, but that if he did not 
it would be all right. The guard had told Waldek that 
on the previous Sunday Leon had told him to telegraph 
for his father, but Waldek said his father was not tele- 
graphed for. Waldek said he asked Leon why he "did 
it" — meaning the assassination of McKinley, and that 
Leon took some time to answer and then said, "1 did 

it " and then stopped and went off as if asleep, then 

''kind of woke up like" and finished "because I done 
my duty." Waldek asked Leon if he wanted a priest, 
but Leon answered, "What can he do? He can't help 
me. If he comes down here I'll give him enough — 
he'll have enough — I'll smash his head!" When I 
asked Waldek if I understood correctly that they al- 
ways spoke English when together, he said he meant 
that they did so in the prison, because the guards would 
not allow them to speak anything but English. 


Waldek said he did not believe Leon had been 
buried. When asked his reason for this statement, he 
said it was because the doctors had lied to him so much 
— "I did not see it and I don't believe what I don't see." 
He said he had been told he might come and see the 
body immediately after the execution; he was then put 
ofif and told he might come and see what the doctors 
did with the body; then he was told he might come 
and see the remains disposed of. After returning to 
the prison several times and being put ofif with prom- 
ises about seeing the remains of his brother, he said he 
was finally told that it was all over — that his brother's 
body had been buried. Waldek said he did not believe 
it. He wanted to take the remains to Buffalo to be 
cremated, but Warden Mead had persuaded him not 
to do so because he said there was a mob of men from 
New York City who had come to attack him if he did. 
Then Waldek said they telegraphed his father saying 
that Waldek would sign a release of the body to the 
authorities if his father would permit. At the same 
time they telegraphed him from Cleveland that his 
father would sign the release of the body if he, Waldek, 
would do so. Then, when Waldek saw his father 
again, he found that it was "all fixed up," as neither of 
them had agreed to the proposition until he believed 
he had heard from the other. 

My impression of Waldek was that he was rather a 
useless member of the community. He seems to have 
been Leon's only confidant up to about a year and a 
half before the crime, when Leon apparently withdrew 
into himself. From Waldek's conversation I gathered 
that he felt he had influenced Leon a good deal during 
the early years in his change in religion. He described 


Leon as quite pale, with a fine, soft skin like his own, 
but with less color. 

Waldek himself was of an emotional character and 
might easily become excited. He seemed honest, but 
only fairly intelligent. He had a great deal to say 
about the troubles of 1892-3, and described himself as 
a Socialist. He denied that his brother Leon had ever 
associated with Anarchists or attended their meetings. 
He said that at the meetings of the Golden Eagle Leon 
had never spoken, so far as he knew, but would take a 
back seat and listen. When I asked him whether he be- 
lieved Leon would have become violent against his step- 
mother had he remained at the farm, Waldek said yes, 
he thought that might perhaps have been the reason 
Leon had felt he had to go away. Waldek spoke of his 
sister, Mrs. Bandowski, as "uneducated" and said she 
did not understand things. 

I obtained an interview with Joseph Czolgosz after 
much trouble and two applications at the office of the 
Cleveland Packing and Provision Company, where he 
was employed. They told me he had worked there 
since he was fourteen years old — he was then twenty- 
two — and that they had never had a better boy nor one 
with better habits; that he was correct in his deport- 
ment, faithful in his work and an all-around nice boy. 
They were so careful to protect him from the curiosity 
of prying visitors that they at first denied that he was 
in their employ. When I finally succeeded in getting 
permission to talk to him, one of the managers had him 
go to a remote corner of the works, that I might talk to 
him without subjecting him to the observation of his 
fellow workmen. Joseph appeared to be an intelligent 
boy, with rather a long face, blue eyes and a light com- 


plexion. He was of medium height and well-built. 
He said that he could not believe at first that Leon 
had killed the President; he never believed that he 
could do such a thing and did not know how to account 
for it. 

Joseph said that Leon was a nice boy; that he always 
lived much by himself — that he did not like strangers; 
that he never talked to girls, and that when he met those 
he knew on the way from church or elsewhere, he 
would cross the street to avoid talking to them; he was 
always ^' awful bashful." He said that he, Joseph, used 
to sleep with Leon, and that the latter always slept on 
his right side — said that he could not sleep on his left; 
he slept well and slept a great deal of the time. He 
would often go off hunting in the morning with his dog 
for squirrels and rabbits; he was a great mechanic — 
always "fixing up" boxes and wagons — once he had 
taken a sewing machine apart and put it together again; 
he mended the fences and could do anything in the way 
of "fixing up around." Joseph asked me if I had seen 
the pitcher which Leon had mended when I called at 
the house. He said this pitcher had been broken all 
to pieces, and that Leon had put some wires in it so 
that it was as good as new; it was tight and would hold 
milk — it was "a fine job." 

He said that Leon had been sick about five years 
before. When I asked if he was really sick, Joseph said 
he had had a cough for a little while; he did not look 
sick, but was always taking medicine and had sent a 
long way for an inhaling machine which he had used 
for about two months. Especially during the latter 
part of the time he was in the country he used to read 
and sleep all the time. When asked what he meant by 


"all the time," he said, "a great deal — it seemed all the 
time." When Leon got his paper he used to sit in his 
chair reading it and Joseph would see him reading it 
and in a little while he would look and Leon would 
have the paper on his breast and his hands folded over 
it and be fast asleep; then again in a little while he 
would wake up and continue reading the paper. He 
did not agree with his stepmother. He ate but little at 
any time. That last winter when his stepmother left 
the farm for the city, Leon stayed in the country and 
cooked for himself and the family, when they were 
there; but when the mother returned about March, he 
would never eat with them, nor come into the house 
when she was there if he could help it; he used to take 
his milk each day from the milk cans after the cows 
were milked — about three quarts — and put it in the 
cellar. When he went in he used to go down and get it 
and take it to his room or out under a tree and drink it 
alone, with a little cake or some crackers. He seldom 
took anything else to eat unless his stepmother was 
away, when he would go into the pantry and eat some 
things. There was a little pond near the house where 
he caught small fish and he used to keep them until the 
stepmother went away from the house for a time, when 
he would run into the kitchen and fry and eat them by 
himself, but if she returned unexpectedly or if strangers 
came in, he would let the fish burn or throw them. away. 
Joseph did not know where Leon went in his excursions 
away from the farm, but he did not believe he associated 
with anarchists. 

With Jacob as guide I drove to the Wire Mills, 
where we introduced ourselves to Mr. E. R. Putnam, 
the Superintendent. After we had overcome his objec- 


tions, he sent for one of the foremen, Page, under whom 
Leon had worked for about seven years. Page stated 
that Leon had been a steady worker; he never gave any 
trouble, never quarrelled nor got into any disputes with 
other workmen, but was a quiet fellow. He carried his 
dinner to the mill as the other men did, but never had 
much to say — sat around and kept to himself at the noon 
hour, though he showed no desire to avoid the men. 
Page said that "Nimen" was as good a boy as he had 
ever had; and (referring to the assassination of the 
President) that he never could have done such a thing 
as that in his right mind. Leon's occupation was that 
of a wire-winder, which required a fair amount of in- 
telligence, and before he left the mill he was a sort of 
assistant superintendent of some of the machines. The 
books in the mills show that "Fred Nimen" worked 
steadily without a break; and Page said that while the 
other men had a good many fines, Nimen had only a 
few, for such little things as letting the wire run slack, 
etc. He was engaged in 1891, and gave up his work on 
August 29th, 1898, as the books show. When he left. 
Page says he simply came up and said he was going to 
quit — that he was going out into the country for his 
health — that he was not well. It was a surprise to them 

Page took us to the very men who had worked with 
Leon — Rathburn, Gunther and a young Pole. It seems 
that Leon had joined the Golden Eagle Society through 
these men, who were all members. Page had thought 
it very strange that Leon wanted to belong to that 
society, as the members were Americans and men so- 
cially above him; he thought Leon had a desire to 
associate with those above his class. Rathburn, Page 


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One year after he gave up work. 



and Gunther were high-grade workmen of unusual 
intelligence. They said that they had seen no reason in 
the seven years Leon had worked with them why he 
should not belong to their order. They had seen him 
daily during this time, Rathburn said that when he 
joined the Golden Eagle Society the oath that he took 
was "like renouncing the authority of the Pope in the 
Catholic Church." After Nimen left the mill he took 
a sick benefit for sixteen weeks and, according to the 
rules, he had furnished a physician s certificate once a 
month. This was signed by Dr. Koller. Nimen at- 
tended few meetings, but came and paid his dues. Just 
before he left he had met Gunther on the street and 
paid him six months' dues in advance. At one time 
Leon had brought one of his fellow workmen a book, 
saying, "Here is a nice book to read; you will find it 
interesting." The man took it and found that it was 
the New Testament. Later he returned it to Leon, 
saying it was a very nice book, and Leon took it and 
placed it in his hip pocket without saying a word. 
They thought this rather strange.* 

*In 1908 there was a report in a newspaper that a brother of Czolgosz 
had been arrested in Sharon, Penn. : 

He is sent to the Workhouse in Sharon, Pa. 

Sharon, Pa., Sept. ist, (1908). — ^John Czolgosz, a brother of President 
McKinley's assassin, was today sentenced to the workhouse for three months. 
The police say Czolgosz is insane and his case will be investigated. 

On inquiry a letter was received from the Chief of the South Sharon 
Police Department, saying that no one by the name of Czolgosz had been 
arrested there ; that the story had started by the arrest of a man named 
Roskowich for vagrancy, who later created a great sensation by trying to 
break jail. 



Emil Schilling was treasurer of an association of 
Anarchists known as the Liberty Club at 4 Elwell St., 
Cleveland. On the evening of June 2nd, 1902, I sent 
for him to come to see me in Cleveland, as he then 
lived twelve miles outside of the city on the edge of 
some thick woods, with his wife and three children. 

He came and said that on May 19th, 1901, Nieman 
had come to him saying he had been sent by his friend 
Howser, of whom he had inquired where he could find 
an anarchist — or anarchists. Leon then talked about 
his own ideas. He said he had belonged to the Sila 
Club, but was not now a member of that or of the 
Social Labor Party, because they had quarrelled so the 
year before. He talked about capitalists and the labor- 
ing people in a way that Schilling called revolution- 
ary. Schilling had given Leon a book to read about 
the Chicago martyrs and some other members of the 
Free Society, and he had also taken him home to dinner 
where he **sat down and ate the same as anyone, but 
kept very quiet at table. I thought he was all right 
this time when he called on me," Schilling said. "He 



did not talk German, but English — talked about his 
farm and said he lived in Bedford on a farm with his 
brother. He came to see me again in about three weeks 
and said he had read of Anarchists forming plots and 
of secret meetings. I said, We do not do any plotting.' 
He then asked if Anarchists did not organize to act; 
that is: 'If anybody do something against a king or 
officer and you was an Anarchist, would you say you 
was an Anarchist?' I told him yes, for everyone knew 
I was an Anarchist. When I answered him he was 
always laughing at my answers, as if he either felt 
superior or had formed a plan and was putting out a 
feeler. I thought that Nieman wanted to be smart 
enough to find out something as a secret detective, and 
I thought he was not smart enough to do what he 
wanted. I thought he was very ignorant. He asked 
his questions in a very quick way, such as, 'Say, have 
you any secret societies? I hear the Anarchists are 
plotting something like Breschi ; the man was selected 
by the comrades to do the deed that was done.' I ask 
him, 'Where did you read that?' He answered, 'In 
some capitalist paper.' 'Well,' I said, 'you did not read 
it in any Anarchist paper.' 

"During his second visit he came at a time I was 
eating my supper. He then handed me the book I gave 
him to read the first time he called. I asked him how 
he liked it. He said he did not read it — did not have 
time. This made me mad and I was suspicious of him. 
After supper we went out. He refused beer when I 
invited him to drink, but turned round and offered me 
a cigar. I told him to smoke it himself. He said he 
never smoked. On our way home I again asked him to 
have some beer and he said he did not care to drink. 


Finally he consented to take a glass of pop and then he 
went home. After his second visit, I visited Howser 
and asked him about Nieman. He told me he was a 
good and active member of the Polish Socialist Society 
of the Labor Party, but that his name was not Fred 
Neiman and he had forgotten his real name. I then 
told him my suspicions, and Howser said to watch out 
if I thought so. 

"Neiman came again about a week later and only 
remained with me about an hour. He talked with me 
and said he was tired of life; referred to his own affairs 
and said his stepmother abused him. When asked if 
his father would not protect him he said no, his father 
had not his own will but was bound by the will of his 
stepmother. I did not tell my suspicions. I wanted 
him to come once or twice more, when I would have 
settled with him — when I would have to tell him what 
I think and not to come again. 

"The first two times he called he had on his every- 
day clothes, the last two times he had on his Sunday 
clothes. He was awful particular about the care of his 
body — his clothes always nice and clean. He had a red 
complexion — was healthy-looking — a round face. I 
see on his hands he did not work much. 

"The third time he call he ask me for a letter of 
introduction to Emma Goldman, and then told me he 
had heard her speak in Cleveland in May. She was 
then in Chicago and I told him he could meet her 
himself, but I never introduce anyone by letter. I told 
him he could say to her, 'I have heard you speak in 
Cleveland,' etc. He said, *I go to Chicago' — said he 
would like to see her where she is. He had heard her 


talk — her speech had influence him — please him. He 
talked much of her and wanted her acquaintance — 
wanted to meet her, but I could not introduce him. 
She was here only two days. 

''The fourth and last time he came was in August. 
I was just reading a letter from Isaaks of Chicago 
asking about this man Neiman — he said he was a friend 
of mine — when a knock came on the door and in walked 
Neiman. I was then suspicious and thought the letter 
might have been opened in post. I put it in my pocket 
and told him to sit down. I asked him where he was 
all these months. He said he was working in Akron 
in a cheese-factory — and then laughed. I thought as 
I had catched him in a lie, I would give him a chance 
once or twice more. He took a walk with a neighbor, 
a good man and a friend of mine. Three of us walked 
along the road and the old man and me talked business 
and Neiman did not say anything at all. When we 
went back to the house he seemed tired and went home. 
I asked him where he was going. He said, 'Maybe 
Detroit, maybe Bufifalo.' 

"In Chicago he ask Isaaks the same questions he ask 
me and wanted money; said he would remain in Chi- 
cago two or three days if he had money, but that his 
family was poor and he could not remain without 
money. They told him they had no money but could 
give him something to eat. He seemed to be disgusted 
and left right away." 

Several others spoke of a silly laugh which he had 
at times.* 

* Dr. White, in describing dementia precox, hebephrenic form, says: 
"Among these symptoms is often noted a silly laugh, which is frequently 


Schilling, continuing his narrative, said, "Two com- 
rades wanted to take him home for the night and turn 
his pockets, taking any papers or other information they 
could get as to whether he was a spy or not. In Chicago 
he must have asked for Emma Goldman; he met 
her on the wharf as she was leaving on the boat. Isaaks 
and some other comrades were there to bid her good- 
bye. He introduced himself to Emma as a Socialist 
from Cleveland — he had heard her speak and was a 
friend of mine. Then Emma turned around and intro- 
duced him to Isaaks and asked him if he was an Anar- 
chist. He said he was a Socialist — then he said he had 
not read any Anarchist literature but the 'Free Society.' 
They then walked toward the Hall and he asked his 
questions. All the comrades had their suspicions of 
him right away. Isaaks wrote to me asking about him 
and he would tell me more — saying to write him. I 
wrote him that I doubted Niemen's honesty. Isaaks 
then wrote me just what I thought, and I wrote back 
to him, 'If you think so you ought to give it to the 
public in the "Free Society," and he did, a week before 
McKinley was shot. 

"Czolgosz seemed to be normal and sound as the 
average man. He might be excused as ignorant — not 
educated, or, as I had thought, a spy, a bad person. He 
was consistent in his tactics; he did not give himself 
away. He was not against the President, but against 
the party, as he said the last minutes, and we thought 
from his education he thought he could not leave the 

developed while the patient is talking to himself, but which may occur at 
any time with absolutely no apparent cause. If the patient is asked for an 
explanation of why he laughed, he will reply in a characteristic manner, 
*I don't know,' or else will give some shallow, wholly inadequate or mani- 
festly false reason." 


world without doing anything. After he done it, I 
assume he plan to do it some months before he done it, 
and only waited a good chance and hoped to get some 
help from friends." 

Schilling said Niemen had told him things were 
getting worse and worse — more strikes and they were 
getting more brutal against the strikers, and that some- 
thing must be done. ^'Then I did not think he had a 
plan — afterwards I did." * 

That the Anarchists did not trust Czolgosz is proved 
by the notice which Isaaks put into the Anarchistic 
paper, ''Free Society," formerly "The Firebrand," 
published in Chicago, 111., under date of September 
I St, 1 90 1, which is as follows: 


The attention of the comrades is called to another spy. He is 
well-dressed, of medium height, rather narrow-shouldered, blond and 
about twenty-five years of age. Up to the present he has made his 
appearance in Chicago and Cleveland. In the former place he re- 
mained but a short time, while in Cleveland he disappeared when the 
comrades had confirmed themselves of his identity & were on the 

*In the spring of 1902 Emma Goldman lectured in Boston at Paine 
Memorial Hall to an enthusiastic gathering of men and women on her ideas 
of modern phases of anarchy. The report of this lecture in the Boston 
Evening Record of May 12, 1902, says that there was no standing room left 
in the hal and that she began her address by saying that the lecture she 
was about to deliver was that which, according to the newspapers, excited 
Czolgosz to his attack on President McKinley. "Americans love their 
neighbor," she said, "for just as much as they can get out of him. As long 
as there are people willing to be made slaves there will be slaves. We 
must get the spirit out of the peoples. Revolutions have thrown down kings 
and kingdoms, but it will be harder to throw down prejudice in the minds of 
the people. Anarchy is a scientific problem and must undergo change with 
the progress of the years. With all their Statue of Liberty, their Constitu- 
tion and their Declaration of Independence, the Americans have shown them- 
selves greater beasts than the Russians. This was when they arose to 
figuratively tear Czolgosz to pieces, and the grief at the death of McKinley 
was not so great. A Chicago firm raised the price of black cloth when they 
knew it would be wanted to drape buildings in mourning. ... I am held 
responsible for the deaths of King Humbert, Queen Elizabeth, President 
McKinley and I don't know how many more — but Anarchy has nothing to do 
with force." 


point of exposing him. His demeanor is of the usual sort, pretending 
to be greatly interested in the cause, asking for names or soliciting 
aid for acts of contemplated violence. If this same individual makes 
his appearance elsewhere, the comrades are warned in advance and 
can act accordingly. 

From other numbers of "Free Society," published 
after Czolgosz's death, I extract the following: 

In the issue of Feb. i6, 1902, written by "Wat Tyler," 
we read: 

That the crime of Czolgosz was primarily of psychological interest 
rather than of political significance — the outcome of purely personal 
idiosyncrasy and not of any doctrine or propaganda, has just been 
positively demonstrated by the only impartial and scientific investiga- 
tion (by Dr. Briggs) of the whole case that has yet been attempted. 
In printing this report, the Boston Herald, in an editorial, accepts 
the above view of the case. Indeed it goes farther and says that this 
w-as its own view, presented just after the occurrence at Buffalo. If 
these conclusions are correct, they show how uncalled-for was the 
attitude of some Anarchists in tacitly accepting Czolgosz at his own 
estimate, and treating the assassination as of political or sociological 
significance, which it clearly did not possess. 

To show how much at sea the Anarchists were re- 
garding Czolgosz, I quote from an article by Ross Winn 
in the same number: 

I do not think Czolgosz was insane. His act was not an insane 
act, neither was he a criminal. I can not bring mj^self to approve 
of his act — I do not believe in violence except in defense of human 
life and liberty, and I do not think the death of McKinley has served 
that purpose. We w^ho denounce vengeance and retaliation when 
done in the name of the law can not consistently approve of this 
spirit when resorted to by individuals in the name of Anarchy. But 
I do not see that anyone can call Czolgosz a criminal. If his deed 
was a crime, the cause of it was tenfold more a crime. 

Kate Austin, in "Free Society" of Feb. 14th, 1902, 


In regard to those "Anarchists who tacitly accepted Czolgosz at 
his own estimate" being mistaken in such acceptance, I heartily con- 


cur with Comerade Tyler. A rebellious working man who deliber- 
ately gives his life in exchange for that of a worthless hulk of a 
ruler has such a very modest estimate of his own value that I, for 
one, would not dream of taking it. While I mourn for every noble 
life that has thus been given, I recognize and accept the act as the 
supreme protest of a brave and generous heart against the curse of 

Abe Isaak, Jr., in the same issue, writes: 

Notwithstanding Wat Tyler, I am not inclined to recede from the 
position I have taken in considering Leon Czolgosz's act of political 
significance. . . . One of the reasons for Czolgosz's insanity is stated 
as follows: "Moral chaos, e.g. He declared he did not believe in 
marriage nor in law, nor in government nor in God." — This probably 
puts Wat Tyler in the direct way of being declared a lunatic. Cer- 
tainly all Anarchists come under this head. "Wat Tyler" bears a 
rather suggestive pseudonym to be engaged in the attempt to excom- 
municate Leon Czolgosz. I reject it utterly and entirely. 

In the issue for April 27th, 1902, Walter C. Behlen, 
President, and Emil Schilling, Secretary of the Liberty 
Association of Cleveland, Ohio, came out with a signed 
statement addressed to their cult, headed, "Who was 
Leon Czolgosz? Was he a Governmentalist or a free 
man? Was he a State Socialist or an Anarchist?" In 
it they say that several German workmen, partly on 
account of Leon's radical views while a member of the 
Polish society and partly on account of the difficulty of 
pronouncing his name, nicknamed him "Niemand," a 
German word which means Nobody, and he finally 
assumed this name. They go on to say: 

May 19th, 1901, Leon Czolgosz sought the acquaintance of several 
members of Liberty Association, after its session, introducing himself 
as Leon "Niemand." When asked about his political principles, 
he said that he was a Socialist and that he had affiliated with the 
Socialist Labor Party up to half a year ago; since then he had 
worked on his brother's farm in Bedford. When asked why he did 
not remain with his party, he replied that it was due to the split 
of the party into two hostile political organizations, and also that 


as a student seeking information he had become tired of mud-slinging 
and personal abuse. As to whether he had ever read any Anarchist 
literature, he answered no. 

He was then given a book to read containing the speeches of the 
eight Chicago martyrs, as delivered in open court during their trial 
in Chicago, in 1886. 

Czolgosz then asked us whether Cleveland Anarchists were secretly 
organized or held secret meetings. We told him no, and that all our 
meetings were public, because secrecy was no part of Anarchy, His 
questions and actions created a suspicion in the minds of his new 

When he returned the book he said he had not read it for lack 
of time. Suspicion now grew stronger, and he was finally looked 
upon as a spy. Several weeks after this it was ascertained through a 
former party friend of his that Niemand was not his real name. 

Several weeks before the assassination Czolgosz went to Chicago, 
where through similar behavior as here, he was also suspected as a 
spy. A week before the Buffalo tragedy "Free Society" published a 
pen picture concerning this man "Niemand," cautioning all com- 
rades against him. 

This is a true statement concerning Leon Czolgosz in his rela- 
tion to the State Socialists on the one hand and the Anarchists on 
the other. 

It can be proven by a quite a number in this city that he was 
a State Socialist and not an Anarchist, which shows that the blow 
struck at Buffalo was the deed of a governmentalist. Why then was 
Czolgosz classed as an Anarchist? 

J. C. Barnes, of Hindsboro, 111., in an article in the 
"Free Society" of April 27th, 1902, headed *'What 
Constitutes an Anarchist," says: 

A warm blooded being who can comprehend and understand human 
passions, which find vent occasionally in a violent, desperate deed, as 
did Breschi, may be an Anarchist. And a person who "philosophically 
sits back in a chair and demonstrates that human life is sacred and 
that a king has life which should be respected" may be an Anarchist. 
A person may rejoice at the acts of a Breschi, a Czolgosz, a Guiteau, 
a Booth, or any assassin, and be an Anarchist or not an Anarchist. 
A person may deplore and denounce their acts as brutal, dastardly 
or insane, and be an Anarchist or not an Anarchist. 

Kate Austin, of Caplinger Mills, Mo., in the issue of 
August 17th, 1902, in an answer to a letter which she 


had received calling her attention to the fact that, bad 
as they were, the police protected Czolgosz from mob 
violence, published an article entitled "Who Are 
Trustworthy?", in which she says: 

As for the form of protection extended Czolgosz by the police, 
the less said the better. The mob would have taken his life as 
an insane expression of sympathy for one whom they mistook for a 
victim. The officials saved Czolgosz from a speedy death in order 
that the beasts of authority might subject him to every species of 
mental anguish their diabolical cunning could inflict, and then led 
him forth and gave him the stroke of death. It is not a humane 
instinct that inspires the police to defeat the aim of the mob. This 
is especially true in the case of a regicide. The law must do its 
bloody deed to vindicate its awful majesty. The authorities not only 
prevent the mob from getting their lawful prey, but they also guard 
the prisoners condemned to death with great care, lest the poor 
wretches take their own lives. 

It had now become time for the Anarchists to do just 
what the Government had given them the great oppor- 
tunity to do, that is to make a martyr of Czolgosz, and 
in the issue of "Free Society" of Oct. 26th, 1902, Kate 
Austin, under the heading, "An Anniversary," says, in 
treating of Czolgosz as a sane person : 

We, who are drawn together by a common ideal, can not permit 
the anniversary of Leon Czolgosz's death to pass in silence. Silence 
would shame the great cause, the first seeds of which were sown in 
the red blood of its advocates and martyrs. The movement against 
government means more than any reform movement of the past. It 
is not a struggle against one form of tyranny, but a struggle against 
tyranny in every form. Rebellion is thought in action. Thought 
that does not produce action is like a tree that bears blossoms but 
no fruit. . . . 

Czolgosz saw that the State is merely a band of thieves, knaves 
and murderers; that the State was founded upon violence and existed 
by violence. He saw the parasites connected with it living in riotous 
waste and splendor off the products of slaves. He saw the political 
pimps of the money barons busy enacting new schemes and methods 
to rob the workers. Doubtless he had been taught in childhood that 
the starry banner floating over the housetops of his native city was 


the emblem of liberty and purity; perhaps the boyish heart thrilled 
with pride to think that he was an American born and therefore 
free. . . . 

All hail the memory of Leon Czolgosz, sublime in his boyish can- 
dor and simplicity, magnificent in his high moral courage and iron 
will! With pride we lift our heads to greet the rebel who, on the 
threshold of death, uttered these sublime words: "I am not sorry I 
killed the President. I did it for the working people — the good 
working people." 

To that class who murder by wholesale and always unite to 
torture liberty's martyrs, we say 

"Go revel once more, ye cowardly knaves, 
With the wantons your lusts have made! 
Be drunken again on the blood of slaves 
That are slain in your marts of trade." 

But know this: the spirit that spoke at Buffalo is not dead. That 
spirit kindled new fires now smoldering in human minds. Govern- 
ment is doomed. On the far hills of our mental vision gleam the 
lights of social revolution. We do not weep for its dead ; we only 
learn a lesson from their fortitude that drives more nails into the 
coffin of authority. 

Liberty's martyrs are crowned with the flowers of hope — tyrants 
with despair, they are dead for all time. But our dead speak the 
language of the living, and are resurrected in each generation, to live 
in new beauty and strength. 

Again to show the confusion among Anarchists as to 
whether Czolgosz belonged to their organization or 
not, I quote from an article by Helen Tufts in the 
"Free Society" of Dec. 21st, 1902, headed "Chicago 
Martyrs — and After," the following: 

We have commemorated the brave death of five men, united in 
aim and hope, who accepted and were proud to bear the appellation 
which was meant to brand them with shame. We look back and 
see them standing together, their faces lighted with the same glow 
of revolt and self-sacrifice. ... In the triumphant passing of these 
men was unfolded the significance of that era; in their martyrdom 
was at last translated the meaning of the terrible sequence of oppres- 
sive measures with which were ushered in the strikes, starvation and 
cold-blooded highway murders of the years previous to 1886. . . . 
It is with surprise and shame that I see this year's commemoration 


of their death inaugurated in "Free Society" with eulogies on the 
act of a lunatic, Leon Czolgosz. Whatever force the act eulogized 
might acquire had it been performed by a person in full possession 
of his faculties, it loses every vestige of significance before the well- 
established dementia and irresponsibility of the perpetrator. 

But suppose it was true that Czolgosz was a "self-poised man," 
can the notion be for a moment entertained by any sane mind that 
his act was helpful to the cause of progress? McKinley was no 
bloody tyrant; he was a tool. Moreover, he was the representative 
of the majority in this country. It was for the interest of capita] 
to bamboozle that majority into accepting him as their representative, 
but the fact remains that the great mass of the people of the United 
States regarded McKinley as their representative, and they supported 
the atrocious acts of his administration. 

They were perfectly agreeable to the theft of the Philippines ; they 
applauded the headlong rush of this country toward financial inflation; 
they viewed with pride the suicidal policy of the man they had elected. 
No matter that the people of this country were the mere puppets of a 
ring of capitalists, they are the ones with whom a Czolgosz must 
reckon, and it is folly to imagine that they will ever see any point 
in murder. As a matter of fact McKinley has become a saint, and 
in his dramatic death at the climax of his career, he exerts a more in- 
sidious influence than if he had been allowed to live and reap the 
harvest of his sowing. The forces of government have profited and 
have in every way recruited strength to oppress. I denounce every 
attempt to drag the Chicago martyrs into companionship with 

In "Free Society," of Dec. 28th, IQ02, C. L. James 


Fifteen months and more have passed since the bullet of Czolgosz 
avenged humanity for a series of acts about which only one opinion 
ought to exist among Anarchists, Socialist, believers in Republican 
institutions, in the American Constitution, the Monroe Doctrine or 
the Independence of the United States. The events of these months 
undoubtedly constitute the most formidable crisis through which 
Anarchism ever passed and the most brilliant victory it has ever 
achieved. On the night of McKinley 's death — a night probably few 
American Anarchists are likely to forget — there seemed every prob- 
ability that the history of our struggle against fraud and ignorance 
would be marked by a St. Bartholomew. In all the large cities most 
of us sufficiently known to attract personal interest had been, by way 
of preparation, imprisoned or put under surveillance of blue-bellied 
hang dogs. Half the Bible-bangers and all the bourgeoise pencil 


pushers in America had employed the previous week in inflaming 
the passions of the multitude against us. The millionaire thieves 
we, of course, knew to be the inspirers of the movement. The police 
and the militia might be counted on to assist the proposed massacre 
with a properly perfunctory attempt at its prevention. The ass who 
was becoming President had not yet brayed, as he did when Congress 
convened a few weeks later, but that he would do as his masters re- 
quired was not within the limits of reasonable doubt. . . . 

Czolgosz, however, was not an Anarchist. If there are comerades 
who still dislike hearing that said, I must remind them that an his- 
torian's first duty is to facts. The facts are that no one in Cle/eland 
or elsewhere ever found Czolgosz out to be an Anarchist; that dur- 
ing his short visit to Chicago, where the comerades generally took him 
for a spy, he showed his ignorance of Anarchism by inquiring what 
he must do to be "initiated" into the "lodges" of our secret society, 
which does not exist; that the whole allegation of his Anarchism 
turned out at the trial to be an invention of the Buffalo police so 
ineffably clumsy that this silent, desperate enthusiast was made to 
skulk behind the skirts of a woman. Total failure to establish the 
affirmative of any proposition — such as that Czolgosz was an Anar- 
chist — is all the proof that the negative requires or usually admits. 

But, though not an Anarchist, Czolgosz evidently was a fanatic of 
some sort, and it becomes interesting, accordingly, to inquire of what 
kind. I have pointed out that there were parties who had much better 
reason to desire McKinley's assassination than the Anarchists. . . . 

In the 'Tree Society" for January nth, 1903, Abe 
Isaak, Jr., says: 

Czolgosz's reticence proves nothing at all; and besides we do not 
know whether it was of his own choosing. Any number of cogent 
reasons may be advanced why a man in his position should decline to 
talk. So far as I can recollect, only one reporter (of the Associated 
Press) claims to have had an interview with him. The account of 
that interview states that he retired and turned his back when an at- 
tempt was made to implicate other persons. We know also that he 
especially requested to be allowed to make a statement on the morning 
of his execution, but this was positively refused. There is no reason, 
then, for the assertion that Czolgosz had nothing to say. 

It is not true that the comerades in Chicago "generally" took 
Czolgosz for a spy. Very few of them had any knowledge of him at 
all, and among those who did the opinion that he was a spy was not 
unanimous. What finally determined the publication of the warning 
note was a letter from Cleveland. This letter, taken in the light of 
subsequent events, would not prove very damaging, but coming at 


the time, was decisive against a suspected man. It must also be re- 
membered that several spies had been discovered in quick succession 
shortly previous to this time, which would naturally lead to suspicion 
more readily. . . . 

I am not one of these "comerades who get mad" when it is stated 
that Czolgosz was not an Anarchist, and if he was merely a crank, as 
James has said, I am perfectly willing to have it known. But I am 
not willing to have facts twisted and distorted to make him out a 
lunatic or a fool as is done by those who are anxious to follow suit in 
a "repudiation craze" so prevalent since the Buffalo event. It makes 
no difference to me whether Czolgosz was an Anarchist or not, but 
his deed was one "about which only one opinion ought to exist among 
Anarchists, Socialists," etc. It was an act of protest and rebellion 
inspired by high motives and manly courage. In his own words he 
"killed the President because he was an enemy of the good people — 
the good working people." He was not sorry for his act. Let those 
who will make their calculations and protests; these facts remain. 

Another writer in "Free Society," who desires to 
martyrize Czolgosz, writes in their issue of Jan. i8th, 
1903, an article signed "B. Sachatoff," in which he 

Listen to the voice of Czolgosz — to the last words before his 
death, and think for a moment of our brutal system, the basis of 
which is violence. Does Czolgosz then present himself to us as a 
fanatic Catholic? Oh, no. We see in him a man who took the sor- 
rows and sufferings of the great mass of the working people to heart. 
He carried the burden silently until he could no longer endure it, and 
gave up his life. It was easier for him to die than to live in the midst 
oi slaves and tyrants. Not being either, he stood alone in the world. 
Who can conceive of greater suffering? 

Viroqua Daniels, in "Free Society" of Feb. 15th, 
1903, writes an article under the title, "Much Fuss," 
from which I quote the following: 

Was Czolgosz an Anarchist or a Catholic? What does it matter? 
If he was a conscious slave indulging in revolt against a master, the 
act gratifies me. His reported words signify that he knew what his 
position in society was. 

And why such an ado by the slaves in all quarters about the death 
of a master ? Do they not realize their condition ? Why should the 


lives of our masters be of more importance to us than ours is to them? 
They kill us off with as little compunction as if we were flies. . . . 

Every act done by a Catholic is for the "glory of God." The deed 
may be the taking of a life, either of a king or of a day laborer. It 
may be almsgiving or hospital service ; but be it murder or what not, 
the object is the same always. They have ever acted without scruple, 
and there is no reason to doubt that they will continue to do so. 
Whomsoever or whatsoever stands in their way, they strike and strike 
to kill. 

After my return home from investigating the life 
and the medical history of Czolgosz, I had a desire to 
attend one of the Anarchists' meetings, hear what they 
had to say and question them in regard to the belief 
among the Boston Anarchists as to Czolgosz being one 
of their cult. While in Cleveland I had learned that 
there were quite a number of Anarchists in and around 
Boston, and that they held meetings in a place called 
the "Woods of Liberty," on Buitta's Farm, Newton 
Upper Falls. I waited until I learned there was going 
to be a large gathering, so I should not be prominent 
among them, although I had become acquainted with 
several of them in Boston after my return. One of 
them told me that there was to be a "Solidarity Picnic" 
on Sunday, August 3rd, 1902, at Buitta's Farm, for the 
benefit of the victims of the Paterson, N. J., strike, and 
that there would be music by the Lynn comrades. It 
was to be an all day affair, beginning at nine o'clock 
and ending in the evening. On Sunday morning I took 
a Subway car to the Newton Boulevard, where I 
changed to a Norumbega car and asked for transfer to 
Newton Upper Falls. I left the car at Oak St., and 
walked down to the Pumping Station and turned to 
the right to Highland Avenue. It was rather a rough, 
wild country for a spot so near Boston — scrub oak and 
recently cut over woods as you approached the farm, 


but on the farm there was a very pleasant grove. Ar- 
riving at the farm about twelve o'clock, I found about 
one hundred men, women and children already there. 
Admission was 25 cents, children free. Refreshments 
were for sale on the grounds, and there were inter- 
national songs and social games by groups here and 
there. I counted three red flags flying, but no Ameri- 
can flags. The speeches were mainly along the lines of 
what one reads in their published paper. One could 
not help likening them to a lot of children, so enthusi- 
astic were they over their games and music, which held 
their interest much more than the speech-making. I 
mingled with them all the afternoon and talked with 
many, but not one did I find who claimed Czolgosz as 
an Anarchist, and the feeling seemed to be pretty well 
disseminated among them that he was irresponsible. 





The following quotations from Dr. William A. 
White, from whose ''Outlines of Psychiatry" I have 
already quoted largely, as the authority today on mental 
diseases, would seem particularly suggestive in the 
Czolgosz case: 

Mode of Onset. — The early manifestations of Dementia precox 
often go unrecognized for a long time and are diagnosed as other con- 
ditions. It must be realized that it may often be quite impossible to 
make a diagnosis by taking a cross section of the mental state at any 
time, particularly in the prodromal or initial stages. This is particu- 
larly true here as the early manifestations may be acute and transitory 
episodes, which clear up promptly. It is only by studying the life 
history of the individual that we come to realize that these episodes 
are but the early manifestations of a chronic process the tendency 
of which is toward deterioration. 

These early manifestations may take the form of the various types 
of the manic-depressive psychoses, psychasthenia, neurasthenia, h3^steria, 
hypochondria, acute confusion and paranoid states. In this class of 
cases, particularly if atypical, a search should be made for the funda- 
mental symptoms as already described, particularly the emotional in- 
difference and the attention disorders. 

In describing the paranoid forms of dementia precox 
he says : 

The fundamental fact is that in dementia precox cases presenting 
paranoid syndromes — delusions of persecution or grandeur — some- 
what systematized — with perhaps hallucinations of hearing are found. 

The difficulty of differentiating the conditions in their early stages 



is often very great, if not impossible. Since paranoia is no longer con- 
sidered to be a purely intellectual disorder, its early stages are known 
to be marked by emotional depression. This same condition of emo- 
tional depression in the prodromal period of dementia precox is 
found. If then a boy of eighteen or twenty years old has a fairly 
well-organized delusional system and is somewhat depressed, showing 
little intellectual impairment, perhaps only a desire to seclude him- 
self, with an apparent inability to apply his mind consistently to any 
end, it is difficult to know whether an incipient paranoia or a dementia 
precox is in the making. 

Under the heading, ^'Courses and Progress of Mixed 
Forms," he says: 

The simple and paranoid forms are the slowest of evolution and 
almost chronic in course, the paranoid forms often remaining in statu 
quo for tAvo or three years. The hebephrenic and catatonic forms are 
more acute in onset and course, leading more rapidly to dementia in 
the majority of cases, although the catatonic form has rather the 
better prognosis. 

Under ''Prophylaxis, " he says: 

Preventive measures are dependent upon the ability to recognize 
in the child the possibilities of a future precox. The recent studies 
of character anomalies as found in the amnesias of precox patients, 
indicates the possibility of foreseeing this result in a considerable num- 
ber of cases, particularly those presenting the shut-in type of per- 

No one recognized Czolgosz's early condition, else 
it might have been possible to avoid the tragedy which 
was the result of the development of his disease. Had 
Psychopathic Hospitals been more generally estab- 
lished, so that he could have gone to one for treatment 
when he first felt ill, or where one of the many physi- 
cians to whom he applied for relief could have referred 
him, the early symptoms of his disease would undoubt- 
edly have been recognized, and the tragedy which 
resulted in the death of one of our Presidents and later 


in Czolgosz's own death would probably have been 

Mr. Spitzka, who performed the postmortem exam- 
ination of Czolgosz, says at the end of his report, pub- 
lished in the New York Medical Record, Jan. 4th, 

Of course it is far more difficult, and it is impossible in some cases, 
to establish sanity upon the results of an examination of the brain, 
than it is to prove insanity. It is well known that some forms of 
psychoses have little ascertainable anatomical basis, and the assump- 
tion has been made that these psychoses depend rather upon circula- 
tory and chemical disturbances. 

Nearly two years later Mr. Spitzka published, in 
Leslie's Weekly of Dec. 7th, 1903, an article entitled 
''Assassins Not Necessarily Insane." He states in his 
argument that assassins are not necessarily insane; that 

Under exceptional circumstances assassinations may be a feasible 
means of bringing about reforms where other means fail — quoting 
many instances from histor}' to bear out his argument — and he says 
that "misdirected patriotism impelled Booth and his associates to their 
concerted attacks at Washington." He gives other instances of what 
he calls misdirected patriotism: — 

The fanatical hatred of a Huguenot killed Henry IV because his 
hatred took him to that deed as the culmination of a lifetime, and 
not as the ebullition of a momentary frenzy. It had been to alter- 
nately sharpen his dagger and break off the point, as the dominion 
of his project grew stronger or weaker. It led Czolgosz to dog the 
steps of the President most assiduously and it kept him firm, unde- 
terred and unrelenting in his purpose. So little had impulse or 
momentary exaltation to do with it that Czolgosz could firmly resist 
any temptation to prematurely perpetrate the deed when its success 
was in the least degree questionable. 

Those who claim "momentary insanity" should trace back the 
career to the point where it ceased, to possess any of the component 
elements of the regicide act. They would find that the moment of 
that "momentary insanity" was often a very long moment indeed. It 
lasted six years in Gerard's case, several years in Ravaillac's, two 
years in Clement's, a similar period with Felton, and several months 
with Booth, Bresci and Czolgosz. Witness Alibaud's shouting "Vive 


la Republique," Perri's singing the Marseillaise and Czolgosz's dying 
declarations. Lest it should be said that this is the consistency of 
dogged obstinacy, when it is remembered that the magnicide's pur- 
suit of his object is very consistent with his previous course in life 
and that his act is the climax of his whole career, it must appear 
absurd to talk of "temporary insanity." 

He writes as if someone had considered Czoigosz 
only momentarily insane, though I have seen no au- 
thority for such a conclusion in a most careful investi- 
gation and research into the literature on the subject of 
Czolgosz. Most of the men who have written about 
him have considered him, not momentarily insane, but 
insane, exceptions being those who examined him at the 
time of the trial and during his incarceration, and who 
made little or no attempt to investigate into his past 
history, and these men admit that he had false beliefs, 
one of them speaking of a "political delusion"; and the 
report of the experts says, ''It should be said that, owing 
to the limited time — two days — at our disposal prior 
to the trial, and the fact that his family relatives resided 
in a distant state and were not accessible for interroga- 
tion, we were unable to obtain the history of his hered- 
ity beyond what he himself gave us." 

This is not what one would consider a scientific in- 
vestigation of the mental condition of Czolgosz, as any 
alienist would admit. Their opinion was evidently 
based upon the history given by the patient himself and 
their personal examination of him at a time when he 
was, we may say, at his best, the explosion which had 
been formulating for so many months having taken 
place and the protection of an institution having been 
afforded him, which temporarily relieved his symp- 
toms. This is shown in other cases of dementia precox, 
who, after violent action, are taken to a hospital for the 


insane, where they immediately appear much better 
and remain almost normal for a time, as every super- 
intendent of such hospitals can testify. This reaction 
from his delusional condition is further shown by the 
fact that for the first time in years he ate almost raven- 
ously and of everything put before him, that he smoked 
to excess, and, for a short period, talked freely. Lom- 
broso quotes Luccheni, who, he says, was what he calls 
a mattoid, or half-witted person, as saying in his 
confession : 

At first I was horrified at the idea of murder, but soon I found 
that a real inspiration had seized me. I felt inspired for a fortnight. 
I could not eat and could think of nothing but the assassination, but 
as soon as it was done sleep and appetite came back to me. 

The trial for this man's life lasted eight and a half 
hours, with virtually no defense, and no evidence in his 
favor was brought forward; but the state of the public 
mind was such that probably no court or jury could 
have been found which would have opposed the will of 
the people. Dr. Allan McLane Hamilton says: 

The limit of tolerance was reached in the Guiteau case, but Czol- 
gosz was hurried to death. The jury were in the room and heard the 
almost Pharisaical protests of the two elderly judges assigned to the 
defense. It was just as much their duty to vigorously defend Czol- 
gosz as it is a doctor's duty to succor a dying thief or a priest's to 
shrive a dying magdalen. Neither public opinion nor the person- 
ality of the victim should have influenced the lawyers. . . . 

The assassin was really a defective who had long been drifting to 
paranoia, and whose actual delusions of persecution and grandeur 
found soil in which to grow. As early as the spring of 1901 his fam- 
ily said he had "gone to pieces" ; he neglected his trade and became a 
vagabond ; he had delusions that he was being poisoned, for he bought 
and cooked his own food, and would not let even his mother prepare 
his meals. He talked a great deal about anarchy and murder, and 
eagerly read the accounts of the assassination of King Humbert; he 
likewise had religious and "exalted" delusions. His ordinary con- 
duct before the commission of the crime had been orderly and gentle. 


He was fond of children and simple things, and a week before his 
act had played with the little daughters of the people with whom he 
stayed. He was not notably vainglorious, and in the performance 
of the deed must have known that he was surely to sacrifice his life, 
and would probably be torn to pieces by the angry populace. He was 
undoubtedly of weak nature and absorbed the doctrines of anarchism 
in the same manner that certain morbid adolescents undergo a re- 
ligious change which leads to a familiar kind of breaking down. Un- 
like the ordinary anarchist who, when he kills, takes means to save 
his neck and escape, this boy carried his fanatical recklessness to the 
extreme danger point with complete indifference to his fate. 

In the electric chair his last words, I learn, were an expression 
of his delusions, which he consistently held to the last, and he died 
believing himself to be a martyr. The post-mortem examination 
showed nothing, but the young medical man who made it admitted 
very properly and fairly that "no indications of insanity cap be found 
in many individuals who have been for a long period mentally dis- 

If Czolgosz had been an Anarchist he must have 
had accomplices, but the prosecution never connected 
his act with anyone excepting himself. His desire to 
be an Anarchist was so great that he thought he was 
one, and that v/as probably one of his delusions, but 
even if he had been proven to be an anarchist, that 
would not have proven his sanity.* 

*An editorial in the Rockland (Mass.) Independent, of February 21, 
1902, refers to Czolgosz as "a poor ignorant creature who did not know the 
A. B. C. of Anarchy," and continues:. 

"Nor was there even evidence of his testimony that he ever was an 
anarchist — that was the testimony of only Policeman Bull. 'For years he 
not only refused to eat with others, but prepared his food for himself,' 
which is often the case with persons afflicted with hallucinations of persecu- 
tion. He was 'rather stupid and dull-like' and 'had a kind of broken-down 
look.' He would never talk to strangers — 'would sit all day thinking — like, 
reading a paper and sleeping'." 

"The Government could have obtained this testimony as well as Dr. 

From an editorial in the Boston Herald of April 26, 1903, I quote the 
following paragraph: 

"In the first place it has been made evident that the testimony given by 
Czolgosz, which these alienists accepted, but did not take the time to verify, 
was, in a large degree, misinformation. He did not give them the true num- 
ber of the members of his family; he did not state what appears to be 
an indisputable fact, that for three years before the assassination he had 


Dr. Sanderson Christieson, in this third edition of 
^'Crimes and Criminals," published immediately after 
the assassination of President McKinley and after an 
investigation of Czolgosz's history, says: 

At the age of 28 and after a life record of an exceptionally (abnor- 
mally) retiring and peaceful disposition, he suddenly appears as a 
great criminal. Had he been sane, this act would imply an infraction 
of the law of normal growth, which is logically conceivable. 

Such a monstrous conception and impulse as the wanton murder 
of the President of the United States, arising in the mind of so in- 
significant a citizen, without his being either insane or degenerate 
could be nothing short of a miracle, for the reason that we require 
like causes to explain like results. To assume that he was sane, is 
to assume that he did a sane act, i. e., one based upon facts and 
for a rational purpose. . . . 

Insane Egotism, e. g., his reason for killing the President was "I 
done my duty; I don't believe in one man having so much service 
and another having none." 

Dr. Christieson brings out the following facts in Czolgosz's history 
as significant : 

"(i) As a child he was markedly indisposed to associate with 
other children. 

"(2) As a young man he studiously avoided the opposite sex and 
did not have a chum of any kind. 

"(3) He was seldom distinctly ill, yet he was always complain- 
ing of ill-health and frequently took medicine. 

"(4) He was notoriously prone to fall asleep in a chair at any 
hour of the day. . . . 

"(6) At the age of 24 he quit work at the wire mill on account 
of his health, as he claimed to his, relatives, and went to live on his 
father's farm, where he remained until about two months before his 
homicidal assault. Here he lived in comparative idleness. . . ." 
He continues: 

"We thus see that his previous history reveals the development of 
a distinctly abnormal condition in his character and which could 
hardly be expected to continue much longer without a break or some 
peculiar overt manifestation, the precise form of which would de- 
pend upon the suggestions made to such a peculiar mind by passing 

been a sick man ; and it is further shown that while he had intercourse with 
the Anarchists in Cleveland and Chicago, the interviews that he had had 
were of a character to arouse general suspicion in the minds of these 
Anarchists that he was a spy." 


"And yet he has been declared an Anarchist, sane and responsible, 
by the state's medical advisers." 

Professor Regis of France says that 

Regicides who survive almost invariably end in insanity and com- 
plete dementia; this confirms my opinion that they are unbalanced. 
As examples may be cited Sahla, Caleote, Passanante, Bemardi and 

And yet, although sick, although delusional, although impulsive, 
they are almost always treated as responsible individuals, condemned 
to death both in order to punish them and in order to make examples 
of them. For my part, I think this method is both erroneous and 
unprofitable, and that society would be the gainer by treating these 
dangerous subjects, who so often cause upheavals of government, as 
insane patients. 

Dr. Charles H. Hughes, in an article entitled "Med- 
ical Aspects of the Czolgosz Case," published in the 
"Alienist and Neurologist," January, 1902, says: 

The too summary judgment and execution of the degraded assassin 
of one of the best intentioned Presidents since Washington or Lin- 
coln, destroyed an excellent opportunity for studying thoroughly an- 
other psychological anomaly in the political history of our Republic, 
the third among the wretches who could deliberately murder an 
American President. . . . Czolgosz should have been kept alive 
under durance and scientific psychological surveillance, as the botanist 
would keep a newly-found exotic, until more might have been learned 
of his strange mental make-up, in order that our political future 
might profit by a better understanding of those anomalous integers 
and epochs of our anomalous present and recent past, when our 
Presidents have been slain by citizens. 

The final record in this too hasty vengeance for the good of science, 
says that Czolgosz, the President's assassin, paid the penalty of the 
law for his crime at twelve and one half minutes after seven A. M. 
of October 29th ultimo, just forty-four days after the crime. . . . 
The autopsy was completed within four hours after death. The 
remains of the murderer were buried and destroyed by means of a 
carboy of commercial sulphuric acid poured upon the body in the 
lowered coffin. Thus ended the legal retribution in oblivion and 
extinction of every physical vestige of our President's destroyer, and 
even his clothing and effects were burned. 


Lydston, in his essay on "Diseases of Society," says: 

I do not believe that Czolgosz was an anarchist, although the mat- 
ter of nomenclature is of little moment. I protest against obscuring 
true causes by a fallacious nomenclature. If all the anarchists in the 
world were slain, assassins of crowned heads and Presidents would 
still be at hand. The name by which each w^ould be known would 
matter little, either to society at large or to our large army of de- 
generates. Czolgosz was considered an anarchist because he claimed 
to be one after the assassination. The same line of reasoning should 
settle the identity of John Alexander Dowie, who claimed to be John 
the Baptist. The assassin knew nothing of Anarchistic doctrines, 
and was repudiated by both the philosophic and destructivist branches 
of the cult. His claim was based upon the suggestion afforded by 
anarchistic literature and his egotism which impelled him to enlarge 
the importance of the deed. 

Whether a fair study of Czolgosz was possible in the state of pub- 
lic excitement and resentment is open to question. A comparison of 
the rapidity with which this case was hurried through with the drag 
of ordinary murder trials is suggestive. 

It is difficult in Massachusetts to find a lawyer of 
standing prepared, or even inclined, to take a criminal 
ease. This is partly because criminal law is at a dis- 
advantage, being almost entirely statute law. Instead 
of being made by judges, it has been made by legisla- 
tures composed of men of all sorts of pursuits, many of 
whom have had no training, but generally have preju- 
dices as strong as their training is weak. Henry Holt, 
whose opinion I am quoting, says that criminal law is 
far behind the rest of the law and behind civilization 
and common sense. Punishment depends upon the 
result of the criminal's act; if a man intends murder he 
is punished for murder only in case the victim dies. 
Holt says: 

The man commits his act, is arrested, and then the authorities 
wait, before trying him for a set of physiological processes in the vic- 
tim, with which the criminal has no more to do than he has with the 
tides of Jupiter. . . . No wonder that under such conditions the 


question of the treatment of Anarchists has little more systematic 
attention than occasionally hanging one who kills somebody, . . . 
and the criminal law finds nothing more educative than the old- 
fashioned pains and penalties. . . . Czolgosz was found guilty of 
murder, despite the judge charging "If the defendant knew he was 
doing wrong at the time, the defendant was guilty of murder." — So 
far from knowing he was doing wrong, he believed he was doing 
right — a right for which he was willing to sacrifice his life, and from 
which he, in his grave, could gain no good. Nobody doubts this. 
The Associated Press report said that after the charge — 

Lawyer Titus also asked the Court to charge the jury. "That if 
they were satisfied from the evidence that at the time of the com- 
mittal of the assault the defendant was laboring under such a defect 
of reason as not to know the quality of the act, or that it was wrong, 
he was not responsible, and the jury must acquit." 

"I so charge," answered the judge. 

. . . But after Czolgosz was dead, the physicians were unable to 
find anything abnormal in his brain, and therefore he was not crazy 
and it was all right to kill him. Note the reasoning of the law : He 
had a good brain, and therefore should have been killed. . . . But the 
statement that he had a good brain assumes that the physicians could 
find all there was in the brain. . . . We do know the gross outlines 
of the brain, and sometimes can tell when a brain is grossly wrong, 
but then it is no news, for we knew it before seeing the brain at all. 
We know, regarding Czolgosz's brain that somewhere in it were 
tangles. . . . And yet the whole country is satisfied with the "moral 
responsibility," whatever that may mean, of Czolgosz, simply on the 
strength of what we do not know about his brain. 

Holt goes on to say that if the world is angry the 
majority of doctors are angry, too, and the world kills 
the man and he is made a martyr for his whole crazy 
constituency, instead of becoming an object lesson. 
Suppose that, instead of making a martyr of Czolgosz, 
they had simply declared him the lunatic he was and 
immured him in a place which inspires only pity and 
aversion, how much greater would have been the educa- 
tional result and the influence among other would-be 
assassins. A parent whips a child simply from being 
too ignorant or incompetent to impose a more rational 
punishment. The state acts in the same way when it 


kills, imprisons or fines for offences which have no 
more relation to killing, or to confinement, or to money 
than they have to the motions of the stars. 

The most intelligent writers seem to be agreed that 
the principal cure for anarchism and allied cults must, 
after all, be educative. 

Dr. Hughes says that Czolgosz's brain should have been given to 
science for more deliberate examination undamaged molecularly 
by his execution. Continuing, he says that the secular press of the 
country demanded that no more be said of the President's murderer 
and that he be speedily and silently disposed of and every vestige of 
him destroyed. The case is therefore ended and disposed of, and 
we are yet in darkness as to the real cause of this unnatural crime, 
. . . But what was the state of Czolgosz's mind? Legally sane, of 
course, for it would be contrary to sound public policy to extenuate 
such crimes on the plea of insanity in any but the most flagrantly 
insane. He was inspired by egotism not common to his station and 
the delusion of imaginary duty. "I killed the President," he said 
while in the chair about to be executed, "because he was the enemy of 
the good people. I am not sorry for my crime but I am awfully sorry 
I could not see my father." Stoic resignation, indifference and de- 
lusion in the face of certain death — courting rather than shunning the 
death consequences of his crime, as though it were a glorious mar- 
tyrdom! No collusion, no instigation proved, but an abiding de- 
lusion of the President's responsibility for a condition which did not 
exist and which the President could not control if existing, and domi- 
nated by the egotistic delusion, the imperative conception, of his own 
mistaken duty to destroy the President. No hope of reward, death 
certain, no provision for nor attempt at escape, no shunning of con- 
sequences, no disturbance of mental equanimity, no regrets for de- 
tection, arrest or confinement, no compunction of conscience for the 
crime, no loss of sleep, of appetite, no motive but an imaginative and 
ordinarily uncompensating one of vicarious vengeance. A com- 
placency and self-satisfaction abides with the fool after the crime and 
death, as one who, though execrated by the whole people for the 
most damnable of deeds, can calmly say "I am not sorr>' — I have done 
right " 

Crank or crazed or criminal, these creatures are a menace to the 
welfare of the state. To summarily kill them in detail as crimes are 
committed, is no adequate remedy. Neither does electrocution en- 
lighten us as to the engendering and evolving causes of the murderous 
breed. The thoughtful psychologist would find the nests and destroy 


the eggs of the abnormal neurones that make up these abnormal mag- 
nicides. . . . Carboys of vitriol obliterate the victim, but they do not 
solve the problem. ... It is a pity that science should be crippled in 
her honest endeavors after truth by the too hasty executions of these 
mental anomalies among civilized mankind. It were better for the 
governments concerned, for science and for the world, that haste to 
execute vengeance should wait on scientific deliberation in these 
cases. They are morally and politically unique and out of harmony 
with liberal modern governments regulated by law and aiming at 
justice. . . . We are left sitting in the dark, still wondering how 
such a deed could have been done by a man in his sound and sober 
senses in fair and free America, and appalled at the possibility of a 
sane man murdering an American President. 

It is interesting to note that three of Czolgosz's 
brothers served in the World War and one gave up his 
life for his country. 

Joseph Czolgosz tried to join the United States 
Army but was not accepted because of his age, 49 years, 
so he joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force at 
Winnipeg on the 8th of May, 1918, under the name 
of Joe Peterson. He served in France and was dis- 
charged April II, 1919; his War Service badge is No. 


Charles Czolgosz was anxious to join the Army at 
the beginning of the War, but his parents then being 
old persuaded him not to go until he was called. He 
was called in June, claimed no exemption and was 
placed in Class Ai. He was sent to the University of 
Cincinnati Training School, transferred to Fort Sheri- 
dan, Illinois, and then with a detail of sixty boys was 
sent to Camp Mills to the Eighth Division for imme- 
diate service overseas. He was placed in Company D, 
Motor Supply Train, which was ready to sail when 
the Armistice was signed. He received an honorable 
discharge on the 7th of February, 1919. 

Antoine Czolgosz, who was usually called "Tony," 


was Leon's youngest brother. He joined the Army at 
Los Angeles, California, and was transferred to Camp 
Lewis, Washington, where he was placed in Company 
K, 363d Infantry, 91st Division, American Expedition- 
ary Force, and served with them in France. He was 
killed by a shell on the 4th day of the Argonne Drive. 


National Headquarters 

Washington, D. C. 

Jan. 31, 1919. 
Private Tony Czolgosz, 
Co. K, 363 Inf., Am. E. F. 
Mr. Paul Czolgosz, 
3557 East 59th St., 
Cleveland, Ohio. 
My dear Mr. Czolgosz: 

It is with deep regret that I am writing to confirm the death of 
your son, who died bravely fighting for his country and the glorious 
cause of freedom. 

A grateful nation will never forget the debt it owes to all who have 
paid such a price for the cause, and as he lies in his soldier's grave 
he will be honored by the whole world, as one of the brave American 
soldiers who gave his life that the world might become a better and 
a safer place. I am enclosing a letter to you from the Chaplain of 
the 363rd Inf. 

Please accept my very sincere sympathy for you in your great sor- 
row and believe me to be, 

Faithfully yours, 

(Signed) W. R. Castle, Jr., 
Director Bureau of Communication. 




The rest of this Volume, or Part III, is devoted to 
the case of Rev. Mr. Richeson, which is used to illus- 
trate a certain type of sex delinquency and to show how 
Society neglects this class when given every opportunity 
to help them, and allows warning after warning to go 
unheeded until a crime is committed. Then Society 
which had shut its eyes and ears suddenly opens them 
to all the details of unpleasantness and horrors and 
kills the man it is responsible for. By not treating, 
helping or protecting him it left the community un- 

Should the layman chance to peruse this Volume, 
I must warn him not to read this case or egpecially 



Chapter IV. His sensibilities might be shocked, as I 
have been obliged to frankly call a spade a spade.* 

This History which must be a part of this Volume 
in order to illustrate the sex class with which we have 
to deal is written for medical men, scientific men, edu- 
cators and those who have to do with this class; but I 
ask the reader who shrinks from sex problems especially 
as we find them in abnormal individuals to stop here 
for unless they feel their responsibility to Society they 
should not read the history of this man. 

Richeson ought to have been kept alive and studied. 
He has been called an ''inveterate liar." Certainly if 
amnesia does not explain his many contradictory state- 
ments he must be put down medically as a "pathological 
liar." A "dual personality" alone accounts for his con- 
flicting characteristics. 

After the newspaper sensationalism given this case 
the Rev. Father Hans Schmidt of New York killed 
Anna Annuller and in his confession he is said to have 
stated that Richeson and Thaw were "his inspiration." 
Such is the influence this class may exert if allowed 
to go on unguided, untreated and at large. 

There is much that Richeson did in his life of which 
he was probably not conscious. Possibly his self muti- 
lation was an act committed when he was in an uncon- 
scious state. It is quite apparent that Richeson's life, 
both conscious and unconscious, was dominated by the 
sex instinct. At times there was a bewilderment which 
is impossible for sane people to conceive of. 

The State of Massachusetts should not wait for this 
class to commit some overt act, after a Commission 
appointed by the State has decided that they are irre- 

* There is no evidence that Richeson was ever a sex pervert. 


sponsible and should be cared for as soon as they are 

If technical insanity cannot be established in these 
cases we must plead in the face of an angry justice and 
an unbelieving public their total irresponsibility, for 
a limited responsibility is both impracticable and im- 
possible. They are not criminals but a class whom it 
is the clear duty of a civilized state to isolate from so- 
ciety and place under medical supervision. 

The fact seems to be that we have not yet reached 
that stage of civilization where reckless immorality and 
persisting irregularity of conduct and temper are rec- 
ognized as abnormal before some overt act is accom- 
plished. Society is ready enough to condemn but not 
to pity and medical psychology has not advanced ex- 
cept sporadically to the recognition of the less apparent 
forms of mental aberration. It is a misfortune that so 
little has been accomplished by the medical profession 
to ameliorate the lot of these individuals. The exist- 
ence of insanity if proven rightly exempts from punish- 
ment but it has always been the endeavor of the legal 
mind supported by a considerable section of public 
opinion to make light of medical evidence in all but 
the most obvious cases of insanity, for fear of encourag- 
ing too frequent resort to the pretext of irresponsibility. 
This erroneous idea is born of the old belief that moral- 
ity and social order are entirely matters of police ar- 

In a letter I received from Dr. John Macpherson, 
the High Commissioner for Insanity of Scotland, he 
wrote that "Hitherto at any rate the law has certainly 
erred on the side of severity, and has hanged ninety- 
nine irresponsible persons for one responsible person 


who has escaped on the plea of insanity. Although in- 
sanity exempts from punishment, society demands in 
its own interests the seclusion of the insane criminal, 
which seclusion is in itself of the nature of a very irk- 
some kind of punishment, so that there is no question 
of the setting loose of the dangerous lunatic upon harm- 
less society. The talk of the defeat sustained by justice 
in some cases is only a defeat of the old retaliative idea 
of punishment, which has had a fairly long reign over 
the insane in the past, and can now afford to relax its 
grim hold." 





On Saturday evening, October 14, 191 1, at 10 min- 
utes after 7 P. M., Miss Avis Linnell who had just 
passed her nineteenth birthday was found dying in the 
bathroom of the Young Women's Christian Association 
on Warrenton Street, Boston. Groans emanating from 
the bathroom caused those who heard them to break 
down the door and Miss Linnell was found sitting in 
a chair attired in a nightdress and thin bathrobe with 
her feet in a tub of hot water. Soiled towels were near 
her and clean clothing was laid out ready to put on. 
Her head and body were thrown backward and she was 
unconscious. Dr. Mary Hobart was immediately sum- 
moned but Miss Linnell died at 7.35 without recover- 
ing consciousness. She had had supper and passed the 
evening with her companions with whom she was popu- 
lar at the Association rooms. She appeared as cheer- 
ful as usual — she was naturally of a sunny disposition — 
and they had noticed nothing peculiar in her behavior. 
During the afternoon she is said to have had a long 
conversation with a ''gentleman friend" and to have 
made an engagement with him which it is supposed 
she kept, as she left the rooms. When she returned 
she excused herself and retired early. Her friends 
knew that she had been engaged to Clarence V. T. 



Richeson, at that time pastor of the Immanuel Baptist 
Church in Cambridge, and supposed that she had tele- 
phoned and been out with him. It was therefore nat- 
ural that he was the first person with whom they tried 
to communicate, and a friend, Miss Inez Hanscom, 
succeeded in getting into communication with him 
about an hour after Miss Linnell's death of which she 
immediately informed him. He expressed surprise and 
said "Is that so? Are you sure that you are not mis- 
taken? Why do you call me?" She replied "Because 
you were the only friend of Miss Linnell's near at 
hand and because we felt you should know of her death 
that you might come at once, and we feel that you are 
her fiance." He then explained that he had baptized 
a Miss Linnell at Hyannis three years before and that 
she had a brother-in-law in Brockton who he suggested 
should be notified. Before ringing of¥ Richeson asked 
"Did she say anything before she died?" Miss Hanscom 
replied "No, she didn't say anything before she died 
but she said something this afternoon." A few of her 
friends at the Association knew of her disappointment 
at the breaking ofif of the engagement with the minister 
and they at once attributed her death to suicide as Rich- 
eson's engagement to a Brookline girl had been an- 
nounced in a Cambridge paper on October ii, three 
days before Miss Linnell's death, and invitations for 
the wedding on October 31 had already been issued.* 
The papers spoke of Miss Linnell as "a young girl 
from the country who had come to seek her fortune in 

* About October lo Richeson is said to have leased half of a double house 
next the Carters on Magazine St., Cambridge, at $35 a month, possession to 
be taken on the ist of November. He is said to have told the agent he was 
to be married and wanted everything in readiness for his bride and was 
very particular to look after al! the repairs and improvements himself, the 
furniture to be moved in the week following the lease. 


Boston and was overcome by her disappointment at 
the loss of her fiance with whom she was known to be 
deeply in love." 

Medical Examiner Leary was notified as is required 
in all cases of suicide or violent death and after a thor- 
ough investigation he found that the conditions sur- 
rounding the death of Miss Linnell were not consistent 
with a suicide theory and ordered the body to the City 
Hospital Morgue for autopsy. His report of the au- 
topsy was made on Sunday, October 15. It stated that 
Miss Linnell's death was caused by cyanide of potas- 
sium and that she was four months pregnant. On that 
same Sunday morning Richeson preached as usual in 
the Immanuel Baptist Church, his text being ^'Blessed 
is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is cov- 
ered," and in the evening went to the home of his fiancee 
in Brookline. The young women at the Association 
were shocked by Mr. Richeson's apparent indifference 
and the fact that he did not come to see the body. Mr. 
McLean, the brother-in-law, who arrived early Sunday 
morning, strongly expressed his belief that Richeson 
was responsible for the tragedy, that his sister-in-law 
had taken the poison in the hope of relieving her phys- 
ical condition and that she was ignorant of the deadly 
nature of the drug she had taken. 

It was while preaching in Hyannis that Richeson 
became acquainted with Miss Linnell in June, 1908, 
meeting her first at the wedding of her older sister and 
Mr. W. J. McLean of Brockton, at which he officiated. 
Richeson was still a student in the Newton Theological 
Seminary from which he later graduated in 1909 but 
during the summer of 1908 he "supplied" in the pulpits 
of the Hyannis and South Yarmouth Baptist Churches. 


Miss Linnell was the daughter of a well-to-do carpenter 
and builder and a student in the State Normal School. 
She joined the Baptist Church and became an active 
member. Her engagement to Richeson soon followed 
and on December 17, Richeson bought a gold ring at 
Hyannis and gave it to her on December 19, 1908, her 
17th birthday. Miss Linnell's engagement to Richeson 
was announced at a small party given by her sister Mrs. 
McLean. Mrs. Linnell, the mother, said that she knew 
that after a time the engagement was broken but she 
firmly believed it was renewed and that Avis was en- 
gaged to him when she died. She stated that she loved 
Mr. Richeson as a son before he became formally en- 
gaged to Avis; that they were much worried by attacks 
which he had at their house; although the attacks did 
not appear to be serious they left him in a highly nerv- 
ous state and he was often forced to leave the table be- 
cause of them. He was worrying about them when he 
broke his engagement with Avis. The date for Rich- 
eson's marriage with Miss Linnell had been set for 
October, 1910, and Miss Ormsby of Hyannis was to be 
bridesmaid. Something happened to upset the plans 
and Miss Linnell left her home in Hyannisport in 
September, 1910, to study at the New England Con- 
servatory of Music and took rooms at the Boston Young 
Women's Christian Association on Warrenton Street. 

According to Mr. McLean she wore the engagement 
ring until Christmas, 1910, when she is said to have 
given it to Richeson to have it repaired, because a stone 
was loose and needed tightening. In April, 1910, Mr. 
Richeson resigned from his Hyannis pulpit after 
awakening considerable adverse feeling in the Church 
by his sensational manner and the subject matter of 


his sermons. On May 20, the Immanuel Baptist Church 
of Cambridge voted to call him to the pulpit, where 
he began his duties as minister on June ist, 1910. In 
August of the same year while visiting Miss Linnell 
at the home of her sister Mrs. McLean in Brockton 
he had one of his nervous crises followed by amnesia. 
While Miss Linnell was getting him a glass of water 
Richeson disappeared, turning up at his Cambridge 
lodgings late on the following day. 

On March 13, 191 1, the Barnstable Patriot, a news- 
paper published at Hyannis, printed the announcement 
of the engagement of Rev. C. V. T. Richeson and Miss 

of Brookline. About the same time Miss Lin- 

nell's mother received a letter from her daughter say- 
ing her engagement with Mr. Richeson was broken. 
On September 29, 191 1, Miss Linnell after a summer 
at home returned to Boston for her second term at the 
Conservatory, again taking rooms at the Y. W. C. A. 

During this same summer Richeson was granted a 
vacation of two months by his Church on account of a 
^'mental breakdown" as one of his parishioners report- 
ed. He spent these two months in Hyannisport and 
again resumed his intimacy with Miss Linnell. The 
people there knew that the engagement had been broken 
and the only way they could reconcile this with the 
fact of his spending so much time with her was the 
belief that the engagement had been renewed, but this 
belief was destroyed when the announcement appeared 
in the paper of Richeson's engagement to another 
woman. Even after the invitations were out for Riche- 
son's wedding on October 31 with Miss , Miss 

Linnell showed no sign of depression and possibly ex- 
pected him to keep faith with her. 


It was not strange considering the above history that 
the brother-in-law, together with the friends, the re- 
porters and the police, began at once to try to ascertain 
where the poison had been purchased and by whom and 
to prove with whom she had lunched on the Saturday 
afternoon before her death. All indications pointed 
toward Richeson but actual proof of his guilt was at 
first lacking. Under this cloud of suspicion Richeson 
had many warm friends and defenders. He remained 

secluded at the 's home in Brookline for some days 

after the tragedy, only venturing out once in company 

with Mr. to do some business in Boston, driving 

all the way and closely muffled to avoid photographers. 
Miss Linnell's funeral was held in Hyannisport Octo- 
ber 17. The crowd was so great that many were unable 
to enter the house but Richeson was not among them. 
On the same day the Immanuel Baptist Church of 
Cambridge refused to condemn their pastor until they 
had heard from him. In the meantime the police were 
working on the theory that the death was not the result 
of suicide and were making a systematic inquiry among 
drug stores. On October 18 Medical Examiner Leary 
issued a further report in which he said "The condi- 
tions surrounding the body are consistent with the be- 
lief she did not intend committing suicide. She came 
to her death from cyanide of potassium poisoning 
and lived 25 minutes after the drug was taken. The 
quantity she took was rather small and had been con- 
tained in an unmarked piece of white paper." 

Miss Barkhouse, Miss Linnell's room mate, in writ- 
ing to the mother said "A great many things happened 
that we dare not write but Mr. Richeson took Avis out 
to lunch yesterday. She returned at 4 P. M. apparently 


in good spirits and had supper with the girls in the 

The brother-in-law, Mr. McLean, held to the theory 
that Richeson was responsible for the death of Miss 
Linnell. He said that Richeson had a great fascination 
for women, that in conversation he charmed women 
and held them as if by magic. He had the "faculty of 
getting into difficulties which did not amount to much" 
and Mr. McLean could not understand the fact that 
he refused to help his sister when called by her friends 
at the Association to do so. He predicted that it 
would be found that Richeson was with his sister-in- 
law a few hours before her death and that it was he who 
gave her the powder. 

While the police and others were working to fathom 
the mystery Richeson, as we have said before, preached 
in the morning at the Immanuel Baptist Church in 
Cambridge on Sunday, October 15. He then went to 
dinner with a friend on Oxford St. in Somerville. Here 
he was taken very ill and asked his hostess for camphor. 
At the evening service he referred to the death of a 
very dear friend and used a sermon he had written on 
the previous Thursday. After the service he went to 
the 's in Brookline and remained there. On Octo- 
ber 19 he visited Boston and consulted a lawyer, Philip 
R. Dunbar. 

The police investigation centered around Richeson 
but no evidence was found on which to arrest him until 
the evening of October 19 when William Hahn, a drug- 
gist on Union Street in Newton Centre, felt it his duty 
to make some statement of the fact that Richeson had 
bought poison of him. He consulted his lawyer. Rep. 
Elias R. Bishop, who telephoned to Deputy Watts that 


he thought he knew the man who had sold the poison 
and invited the Deputy to his house where he met Wil- 
liam Hahn. Hahn's drug store had been a gathering 
place for the students of the Newton Theological Sem- 
inary and Mr. Hahn was intimately acquainted with 
Richeson who he said had come to his store on the 
evening of Tuesday, October loth, apparently for a 
social call. After conversing for a time during which 
he spoke of his approaching wedding which was to 
take place on October 31 in the First Baptist Church 
at Newton Centre, he said just as he was about to leave 
that he had a dog at home that he wished to dispose 
of as she was messing his room and was whining and 
making a disturbance, and asked the druggist to give 
him something that would kill the animal.* Hahn ad- 
vised him to use chloroform but Richeson declared that 
it left a disagreeable odor and would be troublesome 
to use. He asked for a poison that would act more 
quickly. Hahn then suggested arsenic but said that 
it might make the dog fat and then said that he would 
give him some cyanide of potassium. Enough of this 
compound to kill three dogs was placed in a wide- 
mouthed bottle. The druggist advised Richeson to 
be extremely careful in its use saying that even the 
bottle might be dangerous if thrown away. Richeson 
then asked more about the poison declaring that as long 
as the dog was about to have pups he wanted enough 
of the poison to kill the dog and the pups too, and Hahn 
weighed out an additional lump, the entire quantity 
being enough to kill ten people. No bottle or other 

* Frank H. Carter with whom Richeson was boarding at that time said 
on October 21 "about ten days ago, Mr. Richeson told Mrs. Carter that he 
would kill our dog. The dog is a puppy and not thoroughly housebroken. 
Mr. Richeson was very much provoked and said he would kill the animal." 


container nor any of the powder was found near Miss 
Linnell or on Richeson's person or in his room. — Be- 
fore leaving the store to catch his car Richeson told 
Hahn to be sure to come to his wedding "on the 31st." 
He requested the druggist to maintain secrecy regard- 
ing the poison, adding that though it might seem mys- 
terious his intended use of it was quite legitimate. 

After hearing Hahn's story Deputy Superintendent 
Watts immediately called up Police Headquarters and 
with Chief Inspector Dugan, Inspector Mitchell and 
other police officials proceeded at once to the house in 
Brookline where Richeson was. It was now 1.30 A. M. 
and a score of reporters and photographers were al- 
ready on the scene making efforts to gain admission 
but in vain. The officers demanded admittance in the 
name of the law but got no response. As they did not 
have a warrant to break in they took up positions out- 
side, guarding all the means of exit. At 7 the next morn- 
ing, October 20, when a maid came downstairs to pre- 
pare breakfast Sergeant Rutherford went to the rear 
door and told her he was an officer of the law and 
wished to confer with Mr. Richeson. The servant then 
told this to Mr. who said that he thought the peo- 
ple outside the house were all reporters. He declined 
at first to believe that the police had come to arrest 
Richeson; but after a telephone conversation with his 
attorney he led Deputy Watts to a room on the second 
floor which was occupied by the clergyman. They 
found Richeson in bed, awake and extremely nervous. 
When told he was under arrest he asked for a glass of 
hot milk and while it was being prepared he dressed 
with difficulty owing to his excited condition. He asked 
to see Miss , was accompanied to her room and 


bade her an affectionate farewell, then took leave of 
her parents and was taken to Police Headquarters in 
Pemberton Square, Boston, where he answered the 
questions of the officer, who booked him, in a clear, 
firm voice, giving his age as 31, and his address as 147 
Magazine St., Cambridge. Outside the Headquarters 
were several hundred people who pressed so close that 
officers had to be sent out to clear the sidewalk. Before 
being taken into court Richeson was confronted with 
Hahn. When Hahn was brought into the room where 
Richeson was waiting, the clergyman left his seat and 
extended his hand with a word of greeting and it was 
noticed that of the two the druggist was the more per- 
turbed. Hahn was seated facing the prisoner and re- 
peated the story he had told Deputy Watts and through 
the recital of these details Richeson sat calmly looking 
in the face of the man who was helping to weave the net 
of evidence about him. After hearing Hahn through 
he declined to make any statement but asked for his 
breakfast which he ate with evident relish. At 11.55 
the same morning a warrant having been signed by 
Judge Duff charging Richeson with first degree mur- 
der, he was taken before Judge Murray in the first ses- 
sion of the Municipal Court where Mr. Dunbar waived 
the reading of the complaint and asked for a continu- 
ance until October 21 which was granted, the prisoner 
being held without bail and then he was taken to the 
Charles St. Jail where he maintained a silence which 
was remarkable. 

His loyal friends stood by him and financially helped 
him to secure the services of able lawyers. Philip R. 
Dunbar was the first lawyer to appear for Richeson 


after his arrest In Brookline. Judge Dunbar and Judge 
Robert O. Harris were retained as consultants. 

Naturally Richeson's congregation in Cambridge 
were much concerned by his arrest. There were among 
them individuals of various shades of opinion in regard 
to his guilt but the Church as a whole as yet stood by 
him refraining from condemning him so long as there 
was the least possibility of his innocence. On October 
24 Richeson wrote the following letter: 

To the Immanuel Baptist Church, 
Cambridge, Mass. 
Dear Brethren: — 

I appreciate the position in which the church is now placed, but I 
would ask its consideration until after the preliminary hearing, or, if 
the Grand Jury previously meets, until that time. 

Most fraternally, 

Clarence V. T. Richeson. 
Boston, Oct. 24, 191 1. 

On October 27 Richeson's congregation met and con- 
sidered his letter and sent him the following reply: 

October 27, 191 1. 
Rev. Clarence V. T. Richeson, 
Dear Sir: 

Your communication of the 24th inst. was duly received and read 
before the church. We unanimously voted to await until such time 
as the grand jury makes its decision. 

Praying that all things may turn out for the best. 
Sincerely yours, 

in behalf of the church, 

Charles F. Cummings, Clerk. 

In the meantime there were some persons in the town 
of his previous pastorate who were not as charitable 
and on October 31 an effigy of Richeson was found 
hanging on a tree in front of the Baptist Church in 
Hyannis. Placarded in big letters were words attack- 


ing the minister's character, also the reference "See 
Luke 17, 2." In addition, "This is no reflection on the 
Church. The offender will be burned in the ball field 
at 10.15 in the morning." Signed "Vigilance Com- 
mittee." In contrast to this were the prayers offered up 
in the church at Hyannis on October 22 "for our sor- 
rowing ones and for the minister now beset by so many 

On October 26 a special session of the Grand Jury 
was called to consider his case and on October 31 the 
Municipal Court continued the case until November 7. 
In the meantime the Municipal Court lost its jurisdic- 
tion for on November 2 the Grand Jury brought an in- 
dictment and the district attorney nol prossed the case 
in the lower court. The indictment contained five 
counts, "that he gave," "that he sent and conveyed," 
"that he caused the poison to be taken and swallowed," 
"that he gave it pretending it was a medical prepara- 
tion" and "that he did assault and poison with intent 
to murder by this giving and causing to be taken." 

On November 2 he addressed his resignation to the 
clerk of the Immanuel Baptist Church as follows: 

Charles Street Jail, Nov. 2, 191 1. 
Charles F. Cummings, 
Clerk Immanuel Baptist Church, 
15 Marlboro St., Belmont, Mass. 
My dear Sir: 

I beg to herewith tender my resignation as pastor of Immanuel 

Strong in the consciousness of my innocence and firmly persuaded 
that God in His own good time will lift this burden from me, I, 
nevertheless, feel that I should not permit the shadow thrown across 
my life to darken the religious welfare of my church and its people, 
whom I love. 

I, therefore, deem it my duty to place the church in a position 
to select my successor. 


With my heartfelt thanks for the many kindnesses shown me by 
each and all of the members of my church, I am 

Sincerely yours, 

Clarence V. T. Richeson. 

After a meeting the congregation voted, 30 to 15, 
not to accept his resignation. On November 10 Riche- 
son again urged them to accept his resignation in the 
following letter which was received by them on No- 
vember 14: 

Charles Street Jail, Nov. 10, 191 1 
To the Immanuel Baptist Church: 
Dear Brethren: 

I cannot express to you how deeply I am touched at your loyalty 
and manifestations of confidence in me, in this my great hour of 
trouble, and I thank you most sincerely. 

I cannot but feel personally, however, that the welfare of the 
church might be prejudiced while its minister is placed in his present 
sad position, and I therefore feel, notwithstanding my grateful ap- 
preciation of your kindness, that the church should accept my resig- 
nation ; of course leaving it entirely to you how and when the matter 
should be carried into effect. 

Most fraternally, 

Clarence V. T. Richeson. 

On November 13 he was arraigned and pleaded 
"Not Guilty." 



On November 24 Richeson's original letter of resig- 
nation of his pastorate which had been laid on the 
table, together with the one written from his cell in 
Charles Street Jail and dated November 10 urging the 
acceptance of his resignation, were considered and the 
Church voted to accept, though with resolutions ex- 
pressing faith in the minister. On December 14, 191 1, 
Judge Sanderson was assigned by Chief Justice Aiken 
to try Richeson and the trial set for January 15. 

On December 20 at 4 o'clock in the morning the 
quiet of the big stone jail on Charles Street was turned 
into feverish excitement by cries of agony from Riche- 
son's cell. Three officers on duty rushed from the 
guard room, pressed on the lights and asked, 'What is 
the matter in there?" "I am bleeding to death, I am 
dying," gasped Richeson, who was lying on the floor 
by the side of his cot. The door was thrown open and 
the officers rushed in and lifted him onto his cot. They 



found him bleeding profusely from a horrible mutila- 
tion by which he had endeavored to emasculate himself, 
which was partially successful. He had apparently 
used a piece of tin, jagged and sharp, the top of a mar- 
malade jar. Dr. Sargent, the Jail Physician, was sum- 
moned, also Drs. Howard A. Lothrop, David D. 
Brough and John L. Ames, who rushed to the jail in 
automobiles. Richeson was hurried to the jail hospital 
unconscious on a stretcher, etherized and operated upon 
by Dr. Lothrop, who stated that while Richeson seemed 
conscious when he arrived he was very weak from the 
loss of blood. He closed the wound after completing 
the emasculation. Richeson was at the point of death 
for several days. He evidently tried to bring on a 
hemorrhage several days later, as Dr. Lothrop, in suing 
the County of Suffolk for his bill of over $500 the 
following year, stated that the operation was a delicate 
one and a major operation, and that several days after 
the operation he found the prisoner had loosened the 
bandages as if to remove them and pulled the stitches 
from the wound, after which the sheriff had Richeson 
pinned tightly in a blanket and a man left to guard 
him. Dr. Lothrop, continuing his testimony, said 
that he made 27 professional visits at the jail after 
the operation, all of which he considered neces- 

On December 27 three hundred veniremen were 
drawn from among whom to select the Richeson jury, 
but no jury was ever selected. On January 5 he re- 
tracted his plea of "Not Guilty" and plead guilty to 
murder in the first degree and his counsel presented the 
following confession: 


January 5, 19 12. 
John L. Lee, Esq., William A. Morse, Esq., 

Philip R. Dunbar, Esq. 
Gentlemen : 

Deeply penitent for my sin and earnestly desiring, as far as in my 
power lies, to make atonement, I hereby confess that I am guilty of 
the offence of which I stand indicted. 

I am moved to this course by no inducement of self-benefit or 

Heinous as is my crime, God has not wholly abandoned me, and 
my conscience and manhood, however depraved and blighted, will not 
admit of my still further wronging by a public trial, her, whose pure 
young life I have destroyed. 

Under the lashings of remorse I have suffered and am suffering 
the tortures of the damned. In this I find a measure of comfort. 

In my mental anguish I recognize that there is still, by the mercy 
of the Master, some remnant of the divine spark of goodness still 
lingering with me. 

I could wish to live only, because within some prison's walls I 
might, in some small measure, redeem my sinful past, help some other 
despairing soul and, at last, find favor with my God. 

You are instructed to deliver this to the district attorney or the 
judge of the court. 

Sincerely yours, 

Clarence V. T. Richeson. 

On January 9 Richeson plead "Guilty to murder in 
the First Degree" before Judge Sanderson in the Su- 
perior Court, and as there was only one penalty, only 
one course open for the Judge in first degree murder, 
Judge Sanderson sentenced Richeson to death during 
the week of May 19th. The following is a copy of the 
death warrant: 


Suffolk, ss. 

To the Sheriff of our County of Suffolk, to such Deputy 

as he may name, and to the Warden of our State Prison at 

Boston in said Commonwealth. 

WHEREAS, at a sitting of our Superior Court holden at Boston, 

within and for our said County of Suffolk, for the transaction of 

Criminal Business, on the ninth day of January in the year of pur 


Lord nineteen hundred and twelve, CLARENCE V. T. RICHE- 
SON of said Boston, pleaded guilty to the crime of murder in the 
first degree, and thereupon by our said Court the said Clarence V. T. 
Richeson was adjudged and sentenced for said crime to suffer the 
punishment of death by the passage of a current of electricity through 
his body within the week beginning on Sunday, the nineteenth day of 
May next, as to us appears of record, a copy of which record we have 
caused to be hereunto annexed, and whereas a certified copy of the 
whole record of said plea and sentence has been delivered to His Ex- 
cellency the Governor, as required by law, execution of which sentence 
remains to be done : 

We, therefore, command you, said Sheriff to confine him, said Clar- 
ence V. T. Richeson, in the jail in our said County of Suffolk, until 
within ten days of Sunday, the said nineteenth day of May next, being 
the first day of the week appointed for the execution of said sentence, 
and thereupon and within said ten days to convey him as secretly as 
may be to our said State Prison, and to deliver him with this our 
warrant and with a return of your doings hereon to the said Warden 
of said State Prison or to the officer performing the duties of said 

And we command you, said Warden, that you receive him said 
Clarence V. T. Richeson and keep him in close custody, as provided 
by law, until the infliction of the punishment of death upon him, 
and that on some day to be by you selected within the week begin- 
ning on the said Sunday the nineteenth day of May next, and at an 
hour between midnight and sunrise, within the building provided for 
the purpose adjoining said State Prison, agreeable to the provisions 
of the statute in such case made and provided, you cause execution of 
the said sentence of our said Court in all respects to be done and per- 
formed upon him the said Clarence V. T. Richeson by causing to 
pass through his body a current of electricity of sufficient intensity to 
cause death and continuing the application of such current until he 
is dead; for all which this shall be your sufficient warrant. 

Hereof fail not at your peril, and you said Warden are to make 
return of this warrant with your doings hereon into the office of the 
Clerk of our said Court within and for our said County of Suffolk 
as soon as may be after you shall have executed the same. 

Witness John A. Aiken, Esquire, and the seal of our said Court, 
at said Boston, this twenty-second day of January in the year of our 
Lord nineteen hundred and twelve. 

John P. Manning, 


The Hon. William A. Morse says that to his knowl- 
edge Richeson is the only man in Massachusetts who 


ever pleaded guilty of murder in the first degree with 
confession and the only man he knows of who was 
executed without trial by judge or jury. 

John L. Lee of Lynchburg, Va., one of the most 
successful criminal lawyers in the south, had been 
added to the counsel for the defence. Richeson's father, 
Thomas Varland Richeson, visited his son at the jail 
on October 25th. 

After his sentence to death Richeson's attorneys 
raised the question of his sanity and employed Dr. Isa- 
dor H. Coriat and Dr. Edward B. Lane to examine him 
and report their opinion. 

On April 24, 191 2, Dr. Lane made his report as 
follows : 

April 24, 1912. 
Hon. William A. Morse, 
Equitable Building, Boston. 
Dear Sir: 

At your request, I have examined the affidavits prepared in the 
case of Clarence V. T. Richeson. Today, I interviewed Mr, Richeson 
at the Charles Street Jail. Since 1896, he has been subject to attacks 
lasting from several hours to two or three daj's, memory of which, he 
claims to have none. These attacks, in my opinion, are those of hys- 
terical insanity or hysterical delirium. He tells me that, in addition 
to these, he has had several attacks of what is, in my opinion, hysterical 
amnesia. He has been subject, also to lesser losses of memory such 
as a temporary forgetfulness of his own name, or his address, etc. 
Such disorder is frequently associated with the attacks of hysterical 
delirium described by his intimate friends. This psychosis is a serious 
disorder, and in this case seems to be well established. Aside from 
the conspicuous attacks of amnesia and delirium, I should expect such 
a person at all times to have less will power and less judgment than 
the normal person. This being so, it follows, in my opinion, that such 
people have less responsibility than the normal individual, Mr, Riche- 
son, in my opinion, is sufiering from a mental disorder chronic and 
incurable in nature, the possessing of which implies impaired responsi- 

Very respectfully, 

(Signed) Edward B. Lane, M. D. 


On May 8, 191 2, Dr. Coriat made his report as 
follows : 

May 8, 1912. 

On this day I examined Rev. Clarence V. T. Richeson at the 
Charles St. Jail and submit the following report concerning his mental 

There is a bad heredity in the form of a family history of insanity 
in various members of the famil3^ When Mr. Richeson was ten 
years of age, he fell from a horse, striking on his head, was temporarily 
unconscious and since then he has suffered from periodic severe head- 
aches. Since the age of seventeen, he has had a number of uncon- 
scious attacks and wandering spells, in which he would do peculiar 
things and wander from place to place. These attacks were fol- 
lowed by complete loss of memory for each attack which comprised 
hours and sometimes days. They would be repeated several times a 
year and usually followed mental or physical fatigue. They were 
always preceded by a dazed mental condition, of varying duration. 
On several occasions he has had sudden temporary lapses of conscious- 
ness with dizziness. For his auto-mutilation shortly after his arrest, 
he likewise has no memory. He was able to cite a number of in- 
stances of these attacks with subsequent loss of memory, for instance, 
on one occasion in 1910, after supping with friends in Brockton, his 
next recollection was two days later when he found himself in his 
own room in Cambridge, the intervening period being a complete 
mental blank. As a result of my examination, I am of the opinion 
that Rev. Clarence V. T. Richeson has, since the age of seventeen, 
suffered from hysteria, the disease manifesting itself in sudden attacks 
of losses of consciousness of varying duration. During these attacks 
he was irresponsible, while the repeated attacks themselves have 
rendered him more or less abnormal. 

(Signed) Isador H. Coriat, M.D. 

These reports were submitted to Governor Eugene 
N. Foss, who promised to consider the question of 
Richeson's commutation. Immediately there was a 
flood of letters and telegrams received at the State 
House and by others who were working on the case. 
Some threatened the lives of Governor Foss and of 
others if he did not grant a commutation of sentence; 
some threatened his life if he did. The following is a 
specimen of the many threatening letters he received: 


May 9, 19 12. 

Governor Foss, 

Boston, Mass. 
Your Excellency: — 

How would you feel if that beast in human form, named RICH- 
ARDSON, had murdered one of your beautiful twin daughters? 
Would there be anything bad enough for the creature then? Think 
this over and I am afraid that if you show any leniency to him, 
you may be punished in some unforseen way yourself. 

Yours very respectfully, 


The following is a copy of one of the letters pleading 

Cleveland, O., May 7, 1912. 
Governor Foss. 
My dear Sir: 

I am hoping that Rev. Mr. Richeson will be saved from the 
death penalty. I am an Eastern woman by birth, my only son a 
graduate of Harvard, and my late husband of Amherst College. 

I do not believe in capital punishment, and great though his crime 
is, and pathetic as woman's trust is, we all know that blame is 
not confined to one sex, or to one person. I cannot see that the 
church or society would be helped by his death. 


Sarah K. Bolton. 

One woman offered herself to go to the chair in his 
place. Such was the emotional excitement at the time. 
One man from Whitman, Mass., called upon the Gov- 
ernor offering his nine-year-old daughter to be electro- 
cuted in the place of Richeson, saying that he had a 
vision that if he sacrificed his daughter in Richeson's 
place there would be no more capital punishment in 
Massachusetts. One woman called upon Mr. Morse 
and said, "The world has a claim on so handsome a 
man as Richeson and nobody has the right to rid the 
world of such a man." She left for the State House to 
plead with Governor Foss and then visited the State 


Prison and informed Warden Bridges under pledge 
of secrecy that she wanted to exchange places with 
Richeson and allow him to walk from the prison a free 
man while she went to the chair herself. The above 
are not isolated examples, but scores of men and women 
besieged the office of Governor Foss and Lawyer Morse 
and many appealed to the alienists. 



On April 29th I received a request from Governor 
Eugene N. Foss to examine Rev. Clarence Virgil 
Thompson Richeson at the Charles Street Jail to deter- 
mine his mental condition. During my investigation 
and examinations, a member of the Council requested 
that a Commission be appointed for the same purpose. 
The Commission appointed by the Governor consisted 
of Drs. Henry R. Stedman, George T. Tuttle and 
Henry P. Frost. They examined him for two hours on 
a Saturday and seven hours on a Sunday. It was re- 
ported that on Sunday, after three hours' examination, 
the Commission could not agree, and at the end of four 
hours more there still was one member who did not 
agree with the others; not until after a long conference 
in the evening did they come to an agreement. After 
this examination, occupying virtually the whole of Sun- 
day, Richeson returned to his cell and played a game 
of checkers with his companion, Butts, and smoked a 
cigar. The Commission first made an oral report to 
the Governor, who then issued a statement for the 
press as follows: 



The substance of the detailed report of Drs, Stedman, Tuttle and 
Frost, the Commission appointed by the Governor to examine the 
mental condition of Clarence V. T, Richeson, is that although he is 
by nature emotionally unstable and subject to hysterical manifesta- 
tions which occasionally have been pronounced, he was in no sense 
insane at the time of the commission of the crime for which he has 
been sentenced to death and is not insane now. 

Later they rendered a written report substantially as 

In my examination of Richeson I first considered his 
heredity, and for those who believe in heredity I give 
the ancestors, direct and collateral, of Richeson, in 
whom there seems to have been mental disease, accord- 
ing to the history given by his father and corroborated 
by affidavits from others who were in a position to 
know the facts. Following this history I give the 
instances in Richeson's early life bearing upon his 
future conduct and behavior. 

The heredity of Clarence V. T. Richeson is as fol- 

Thomas V. Richeson's mother was one of seven 

1. Maggie Douglas, married and had four children 
— one has been deranged for some years, and is now in 
a lunatic asylum. 

2. Sally Douglas had two children — one is de- 
ranged, but harmless. 

3. Nancy Douglas had four children — one was 
deranged; and a daughter who married had a son who 
was mentally deranged and so died, 

4. Mary, the grandmother of Clarence Richeson, 
had six children — one of the sons, an uncle of Clarence, 
was insane and died in the Lunatic Asylum at Staunton, 


5. Jennie Douglas married but had no children. 

6. John Douglas, reported married, and it has been 
understood by the family that he was insane. 

7. Fanny Douglas married many years ago and 
moved to a distant state, nothing having since been 
heard from her. 

The great-uncle of Clarence, Samuel Richeson, on 
his father's side, had a son James, who is reported to be 
now confined in an Insane Asylum in the State of 

Clarence's Uncle Walter had two children, one of 
whom is insane. 

Jennie, an aunt of Clarence, married, had five chil- 
dren; two of them are insane. 

The following affidavits, corroborative of the above 
heredity, were properly executed and sworn to: First, 
the father of Clarence V. T. Richeson made affidavit 
on the 30th of December, 191 1, at Lynchburg, Va., that 
he was 63 years of age; was born and has since resided 
in the County of Amherst, Va. ; that he was married 
twice and that Clarence V. T. Richeson was his son by 
his first wife, Sallie Rucker; that his mother was Miss 
Mary Douglas and she was one of seven children, 
Maggie, Sallie, Nancy, Fanny, Jennie and John. 
Fanny married many years before and moved to a dis- 
tant state. Maggie Douglas had four children, amongst 
them a son who had been deranged for some years. 
Sallie Douglas married John R. Maben, had two chil- 
dren, one of whom, William, is deranged. Nancy 
married James Richeson, who was his father's half- 
brother. They had four children; one a son, James, 
died deranged at sixteen; a daughter, Mary Catherine, 
married Samuel B. Rucker and had a son, Craighill 


Rucker, about 30 years of age, who was mentally de- 
ranged. John, who has been understood to be insane, 
he could only remember having seen once and says that 
on this occasion his conduct was so violent that he felt 
no doubt as to his insanity. Samuel Richeson, his 
father's brother, had a son James, said to be confined 
in an asylum in the state of Missouri. Mary Douglas 
and Col. W. A. Richeson were his father and mother 
and had six children. One of their sons, his brother 
Douglas, became insane and died in an asylum in 
Staunton, Va. His sister, Jennie, Clarence's aunt, mar- 
ried William Rheil; they had five children; two are 
insane. A brother Walter, Clarence's uncle, married 
Miss Drummond; they have two children; one, a 
daughter, is insane. 

Charles H. Richeson made affidavit that he was 
acquainted with Mrs. Jennie Rheil, an aunt of Clarence 
and sister of his father, that Mrs. Rheil is the mother 
of two children, both of whom are mentally afflicted 
or insane. 

Samuel B. Rucker of Lynchburg, Vt., made affidavit 
that he had been acquainted with practically the "entire 
Richeson family for some generations back on both 
sides"; that T. V. Richeson married his sister, Sallie 
Rucker; that T. V. Richeson's mother was a Miss Mary 
Douglas; that she was one of seven children, of whom 
Maggie Douglas married a man by the name of Pyne; 
they had one son who was at the time of the affidavit a 
patient in a lunatic asylum. That Sallie Douglas mar- 
ried a man by the name of Maben and has one son, 
William Maben, mentally deranged but not being dan- 
gerous, resides with his sister at Stapleton, Vt. That 
Nancy Douglas married James Richeson and had a son 


James who was mentally deranged and died at sixteen 
years of age. Jennie Douglas married a Mr. Matthews 
of Roanoke, Va., but had no children. John Douglas 
was reported to have been insane. 

Douglas Richeson, an uncle of Clarence, was com- 
mitted to the insane asylum at Staunton, Va., and died 
there. Jennie Richeson, an aunt of Clarence, married a 
man by the name of Rheil and had two children, both 
insane. Walter Richeson, an uncle of Clarence, mar- 
ried a Miss Drummond and had a daughter who was 

Dr. J. S. Dejarnette, Superintendent of the Western 
State Hospital at Staunton, Va., makes a sworn copy of 
the commitment papers and record of the history of 
J. Douglas Richeson while a patient at his hospital, in 
which he says that order for the commitment of J. 
Douglas Richeson on the complaint of Mrs. Mary 
Richeson was issued the 2nd day of October, 1883, the 
commitment papers being signed by John J. Robertson, 
M. D., and W. A. Richardson, M. D., in which they 
swore under oath that the patient's age was 38, born in 
Amherst County, Va., married, three children, occupa- 
tion clerk in a lead factory, without property; has 
shown evidences of insanity for six months; general 
disposition to wander and nervous excitement with 
inclination to be violent; symptoms increasing; no 
period of exacerbations, no lucid intervals, loss of prop- 
erty and failure in business plus lead poisoning sup- 
posedly the cause; no former attacks; shows disposition 
to commit violence to others, not to himself; loss of 
flesh. Committed to the hospital October 4, 1883; 
deluded, incoherent of speech. In July, 1884, was 
removed to the violent wards because of his boisterous 


manner, becoming wild, noisy, restless and filthy. On 
November 8, 1884, fell to the floor suddenly but not in 
spasm and did not lose consciousness. On December 5 
went into a comatose state during the night and until 
he died December 6 at 8 P. M. 

Clarence V. T. Richeson's history is as follows: 
Richeson was born on February 15,1 876, at Amherst, 
Va., coming from a family of devout Baptists; his 
father was a farmer, who is said to have been married 
three times, Clarence being son of the first wife. As a 
boy he was ambitious to leave the tobacco fields and 
wanted to be a clergyman. He dressed better than the 
other boys in the same town. He was a sort of Beau 
Brummel in his little town and very romantic at an 
early age. When 13 he left his home for Lynchburg, 
Va., where he worked in the field, in a mill and at 
other jobs. Little of interest has been learned of his 
early childhood. Clarence was ambitious and perhaps 
a "spore," for he seemed to aspire to a much higher 
social position than that occupied by his family and to 
that end he sought a better education than his surround- 
ings would permit and determined to become a min- 
ister. He first prepared for college at Amherst Acad- 
emy, Va. From this Academy he went in 1893 ^^ Car- 
rollton. Mo., where he worked for his cousin, W. J. 
Richeson, for three years while studying at the Acad- 
emy at that place. He joined the Trotter Baptist 
Church of Carroll County. 

He is said to have been unusually attractive to women 
and is variously described as a ''tall, handsome giant 
with the classic face of a Gibson hero"; ''handsome as a 
young God"; "touched with that mysticism which en- 
folds the pulpit"; "young and Apollo-like in appear- 


ance," and by other phrases. In his sacred calling he 
was brought into close contact with many attractive 
young women. In spite of his undoubted ability as a 
minister he seems to have succeeded in getting into 
difficulties wherever he went. When not over 1 8 he is 
reported to have become engaged to two young women 
in Carroll County, Mo., each of whom broke her en- 
gagement with him upon learning of a third affair in 
Kansas City. About 1896 he returned home, where he 
remained for three years. 

While a student in Carroll County an episode oc- 
curred, an account of which says that while making a 
call at the house of a young woman Richeson was taken 
with some sort of an attack and lay upon a sofa, refusing 
to move or to go home; he was finally put out by two 
of her friends at two o'clock in the morning. The next 
day he returned to apologize, saying that he had had a 
fit, but the young woman refused to accept his apology, 
and closed the doors of her house to him thereafter. 
It is said that he had to be supported from the house 
to the sidewalk. 

Barnett B. Hardy of the County of Kiowa, Okla- 
homa, makes affidavit that he met Clarence V. T. 
Richeson in St. Louis, Mo., in 1895, and grew to know 
him quite well; that Richeson was called to Virginia 
by the death of his mother and upon his return seemed 
to be grieved and depressed to an unusual degree, ex- 
hibiting many peculiarities which at first he supposed 
were caused by grief. The next year, 1896, he roomed 
with Richeson for two or three months when he more 
closely observed his peculiarities and his nervous tem- 
perament, and says he acted so strangely that he be- 
lieved him to be mentally unbalanced; that his strange 


acts, nervousness and mental condition were discussed 
among his acquaintances. Hardy further says when he 
met Richeson at the Third Baptist Church in St. Louis 
he impressed him as being a very earnest and conscien- 
tious young man; after his mother died he seemed un- 
able to restrain his grief; that when he shared his room 
with him in 1896 they did their own cooking; that he 
was fond of young ladies' company and devoted too 
much thought to them for a young man who was plan- 
ning to enter college with the view of taking up the 
ministry and theological work. He chose refined young 
ladies. On one occasion he baked a cake and took it to 
the Third Baptist Church as a gift to one of the young 
ladies as well as a sample of his cooking. He was of a 
restless temperament and continually changed his occu- 
pation. He worked longest in the shoe business. 

Once he invited Hardy and two other boys to take a 
ride in a surrey to Forest Park, where he asked them 
to kneel down and pray with him. A little later some- 
thing was said about his mother and he began to cry 
and seemed unfriendly for the rest of the afternoon and 
intimated at one time that it seemed as though his 
mother's death was the result of foul play. He became 
desperately in love with two girls in Virginia. About 
the same time he claimed to be in bad health and took 
a vacation in southern Missouri where he met another 
girl to whom he became engaged, but the engagement 
was soon broken ofif. After he returned to St. Louis he 
was taken sick in the night, was delirious and talked 
about a girl all night After this he was a nervous 
wreck and was taken to the Missouri Baptist Sana- 
torium where he was for weeks. Through his pecu- 
liarities he often lost friends of long standing, but 


Hardy was always friendly and believed Richeson 
possessed noble principles. 

May Townsend, a former resident of St. Louis and 
Potosi, Mo., made an affidavit and wrote a letter in 
which she said that Richeson visited her home in 
Missouri and showed "in a marked degree that he was 
mentally unbalanced." The doctor was sent for and 
remained with him throughout the night and told them 
that he was "as crazy as he could be." She further says 
that he is her first cousin. His illness began while he 
was in St. Louis when he became "very sick" and later 
came to her home in Potosi to recuperate. "He seemed 
to be very weak; one evening he retired about nine 
o'clock, but very shortly after he went to his room I 
heard him out on the porch maneuvering around and 
talking to himself. It was quite cold and I could not 
imagine what he was doing. It impressed me as being 
very strange. I told my father and mother, and on 
going out they found him in his night clothes entirely 
out of his head and beyond control. He talked only at 
random, but they supposed his sickness had caused this 
confused condition. They tried to get him to go back 
into the house but could do nothing with him. He went 
out on the farm still clad only in his night clothes and 
it was cold. It was only by great effort that he was 
gotten back to the house after one or two hours and to 
bed, where he talked at random all the time and did 
not know any of the family. A doctor was sent for 
and gave him some quieting medicine. The next morn- 
ing he was in his right mind. When we told him not 
to get up, that he was very sick during the night, he 
did not seem to know it. The physician advised us to 


take him back to the city just as soon as possible, and 
that afternoon I went with him to St. Louis and to the 

Dr. B. A. Wilkes of 4515 Washington Boulevard, 
St. Louis, made an affidavit in 191 2 that he was Super- 
intendent at the time that Richeson was a patient in the 
Missouri Baptist Sanitarium in 1896. Dr. Purington, 
Richeson's attending physician, has since died. Dr. 
Wilkes says: "He evidently had some kind of a mental 
derangement^ but I never went into his case sufficiently 
to have a very clear or definite opinion as to what the 
trouble was." 

Richeson's father made affidavit that his daughter 
Russell, a trained nurse living in Philadelphia, Pa., 
sent him a letter while Clarence was in St. Louis, 
written her by an officer of the college there in which 
he stated that ^'Clarence had become deranged" and 
was in such a condition they could no longer keep him 
as a student. A year after this Clarence came home for 
a visit to Virginia, and his father saw a very decided 
change in the boy's manner and appearance. He says 
he was excitable and flighty, which caused him grave 
anxiety, especially about his mental condition; he did 
not see him again until he visited him in the jail at 

Mary Catherine Rucker, second cousin of Clarence 
and wife of Samuel B. Rucker, made affidavit that she 
saw Richeson when he made the above visit to Vir- 
ginia; that he was ''so flighty and peculiar and gave so 
many evidences of being of unsound mind in conduct 
and deportment it made me very much afraid of him. 
I felt a great relief when he left my house." Her 


daughter Lucy, the wife of Stephen Mundy, in an affi- 
davit, corroborates her mother and says, "Every mem- 
ber of the family was impressed by his peculiar conduct 
and demeanor. He was flighty and at times incoherent 
and peculiar to such an extent that all of us felt uneasy 
during his visit." 

At the time I made my examination of Richeson at 
the request of Governor Foss I received the following 

Kansas City, Mo., May 11, 1912. 
Dr. L. Vernon Briggs, 
Boston, Mass. 
Dear Dr.: 

I have been ill and confined to my bed and have been reading daily 
with much interest everything in connection with the conditions 
surrounding Mr. Richeson — and must confess have worried con- 
siderable about it — from the time of his confessed crime. And unless 
I am greatly mistaken, he came to me while attending the William- 
Jewell College at Liberty, Mo., saying he had no doubt I would 
pronounce him crazy when the real object of his visit was known 
to me. 

He repeated again: "I know you will think I am crazy but I have 
come to you for an operation, and I want you to castrate me." I 
could not but help agreeing with him, and replied, "Yes, / am sure 
you must be crazy," and told him that I positively refused to make 
such an operation. He said, "I am willing to pay you any amount you 
ask for." But told him he could not pile money enough on my table 
to tempt me to accept his case. 

Then he sat and talked with me, telling me that he was studying 
for the Ministry and expected to devote his entire life to it. With 
his temperament and desires he felt he could not make his Pastoral 
visits and associate with women, without losing control of himself, 
that he wanted to remove every possible temptation from his path, 
which he felt the operation in question would do. 

I firmly believe that his mind was unsettled then and no doubt, 
along these lines, must have been ever since. 

I do not want to impress you for a moment that I am condoning 
his crime, quite to the contrary, but pity goes out to him just the 
same, knowing his eagerness to give up that part of nature that he 
might more fully live the life he was fitting and preparing himself for. 

If I have given you anything to help you I am truly glad. WTien 
we as physicians are confined to our beds, we have more time to give 


individual patients more consideration, and for some reason my mind 
has rested with this young Pastor. 

Very truly, 

Philip C. Palmer, M.D. 

In 1899 he entered the William-Jewell College at 
Liberty, Mo., and was ordained to the Baptist Ministry 
at the Third Baptist Church after matriculating at the 
Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He 
supplied a mission church at Kansas City for some 
time. While still a student and residing at Liberty, 

Mo., he is said to have been engaged to a Miss , 

daughter of the Rev. , and it was generally thought 

he would marry her as soon as he completed his course 
in college. He was reported to have been suspended in 
1905 for cheating in the final examination and to have 
been expelled the following year for repeating the 
performance. His engagement to the above young 
lady had not been broken at this time. Richeson is said 
to have brought suit against the college to compel it to 
give him a diploma, but to have withdrawn it after a 
conference with the faculty during which they are 
reported in addition to have charged him with un- 
becoming conduct with a young member of the Budd 
Park Baptist Church in Kansas City, where he was 
preaching during his student days. It was reported 
that while pastor of the Budd Park Baptist Church 
between 1901-4 he preached an eloquent sermon on 
''The Temptations of Young Girls in a City"; that 
after the service three girls approached him weeping, 
each claiming that he had asked her to marry him and 
asked him if he intended to fulfill his promise. He is 
said to have been calm and assured them there must be 
some mistake. The trustees are said to have written 


for his resignation and he left the church and went to 
Liberty, Mo. 

After Richeson was expelled from college Miss 

resigned her position as teacher of Latin and Mathe- 
matics in the Liberty High School it was thought to 
marry him but he left hurriedly to accept a pulpit at 
Leadville, Col., and she later accepted a position in a 
school in Kansas City which she had to give up, it is 
said, because of failing health and grief over the defec- 
tion of her lover, and went to reside with a sister. She 
is said to have loaned Richeson $750 after prominent 
ministers who had been assisting him refused to do so 
longer. The money without the interest was paid back 
within the year prior to Richeson's death. 

He also preached during his student days at the 
Baptist Church in Stewartsville, Mississippi. 

While in Liberty, Mo., he worked as a conductor on 
a street car line some time between 1901-4 and became 
involved in a strike in which he eloquently advocated 
the cause of the workers. He was made a member of 
the Union's Grievance Committee, which position he 
gave up when the strike was decided against the men. 

Dr. G. M. Phillips of St. Louis, Mo., states in an 
affidavit signed and sworn to, that ''in the latter part of 
November, 1901, a neighbor and shoe manufacturer of 
the city, a prominent member and officer of the Baptist 
Church, called upon him in reference to rendering a 
professional service to a young man named C. V. T. 
Richeson. He explained his interest in Richeson to 
Dr. Phillips by saying that he was one of those highly 
deserving and competent young men struggling without 
assistance to qualify himself for the ministry, that his 
wages as a shoe worker were very small, and as an en- 


couragement to Richeson that he (Mr. Guyett) would 
be glad to remunerate him for his services." Dr. 
Phillips assured Mr. Guyett that it would give him 
pleasure to assume this responsibility and do what he 
could for the young man; that Richeson if able could 
remunerate him at some future time, otherwise there 
would be no obligation. On December 4, 1901, Mr. 
Guyett brought Richeson to him at his office and he 
made an examination with the following results: "Age 
25; residence 2818 Washington Avenue; occupation 
shoe worker (factory) ; student at William-Jewell Col- 
lege. His family history presented no tuberculosis or 
other constitutional disease; several members, how- 
ever, were nervous and hysterical. He claimed to have 
sustained no special injury, nor had he evidence of 
any serious disease. His history was entirely negative 
so far as all venereal disease was concerned. He com- 
plained of having three or four nocturnal seminal emis- 
sions each week; that he was nervous, wakeful and 
apprehensive. He complained of pains in his head, 
back, testes and limbs; that he was dizzy, his memory 
ivas poor and he was unable to concentrate mentally, 
and that this latter concerned him especially. He was 
a perfect and complete picture of ^neurasthenia sexualis 
in its most aggravated form.' " Dr. Phillips found that 
he had a rapid pulse (106) weak and irregular; tem- 
perature 99°; he was anemic in a pronounced degree. 
He had discovered the existence of a mild varicocele 
and had grown very attentive to this and ascribed his 
wretched physical and mental state to it. He despaired 
of ever being made well again and rather courted death. 
He was most melancholy. 
An examination revealed a trifling varicocele; very 


sensitive deep urethra; urine pale and of low specific 
gravity (1.002). The above are the main points re- 
corded in Dr. Phillips' first examination. Dr. Phillips 
states that after the completion of this examination he 
counselled his treating the whole matter lightly and 
gave him every assurance of the curability of his dis- 
ease and endeavored to impress him with his exagger- 
ated estimate of its gravity. He assured him that he 
would be perfectly well, competent to pursue his studies 
and perform all functions to society. He saw him every^ 
few days. At first he seemed able and willing to accept 
his prognosis and made some progress both in a physi- 
cal and mental direction. Very soon, however, he 
drifted into his former depressed state; his varicocele 
seemed uppermost in his mind and he insisted upon its 
removal. On January 8, 1902, Dr. Phillips operated 
upon him at St. John's Hospital, removing the varico- 
cele, and continued his former treatment of him. His 
improvement now was very pronounced. He became 
hopeful, cheerful and displayed a high appreciation 
for the service Dr. Phillips had rendered him. Dr. 
Phillips suggested matrimony as the only positive cure 
for his other annoying condition, but Richeson assured 
him that this was entirely out of the question at that 
time. Then with proper apologies and explanations 
Dr. Phillips states that he suggested intercourse, which 
suggestion was flatly declined and he says ''through 
this suggestion I lost his confidence and respect, for 
immediately following the suggestion he said, 'I had 
rather die than resort to such a cure.' " 

Dr. Phillips continued to see him until January 23, 
1902, when he had improved both physically and men- 
tally and it was hoped he might overcome his fancied 


ailments. Dr. Phillips continues in his affidavit that in 
his opinion "at this time he was not responsible for his 
any act that was directly associated with his sexual 
organs; that such conditions as these, in my judgment, 
are competent to set in motion sexual manifestations to 
the end that all reason is overbalanced, and one's acts 
are beyond control." 

It is interesting to note from payments by Richeson 
the frequency of his calls upon Dr. Phillips in one 
month: December 10-13-19-30, 1901 ; his last visit was 
March 31, 1902. 

Dr. Phillips, in an interview later, said that Riche- 
son's mind was fixed upon his sexual organs more in a 
psychic than in a physical way. The operation per- 
formed seemed to satisfy him for a time. 

In 1907 Richeson resided in El Paso, Texas, for four 
months, from April to September, at the house of one 
Milton Estes, 121 1 Wyoming St Estes makes affi- 
davit that while Richeson was an inmate of his house 
he was afflicted with a mental disorder which for a 
considerable period rendered him insane; that he had 
delusion that someone had done him a great injury and 
for a considerable period of time raved night and day 
of his supposed wrongs; one night he was so *'bad" that 
Mr. Estes sent for Dr. Thompson W. Grace, who ad- 
ministered something to quiet the patient but that they 
both remained with him through the night. In a few 
days he recovered from this attack and was able to go 
about again. 

Dr. Thompson W. Grace makes affidavit that he has 
practised medicine and surgery for over twenty years 
and was a resident of El Paso for more than five years; 
that in the month of July, 1907, he was called to see 


Richeson, who was sick at the home of Milton Estes, 
and found him in a cataleptic state. When aroused he 
raved against some men in El Paso who had been and 
were then among his best friends; and he seemed to 
imagine they were working against him and that some- 
one was seeking to do him an injury. Dr. Grace pre- 
scribed for him, stayed with him all night, and in a 
few days he got better and was up and about. Later 
he had another similar attack, soon after which he left 
El Paso, and in August, 1907, went to Georgetown, 

Asa S. Howe, in an affidavit, states that he first met 
Richeson about Christmas, 1906, when Richeson was 
visiting his home in Georgetown, Mass. He was then 
a student at the Newton Theological School and was 
an occasional guest at the Howe homestead until March 
29, 1907, when he accepted a call to a church at El 
Paso, Texas. Several times while visiting Mr. Howe 
he appeared in a nervous state of mind and at times 
his exhausted condition led Mr. Howe to believe that 
he was applying himself too closely to his studies; that 
he returned from El Paso the latter part of August, 
1907, and that it was very noticeable that his mental 
condition had not improved but on the contrary had 
grown worse; at times he was erratic and irritable, at 
other times morose and his faculties seemed benumbed. 

One night early in September, 1907, Mr. Howe 
states that his family and their guest, Mr. Richeson, 
"retired to their rooms at the same time; within a few 
minutes after retiring all the members of the family 
were aroused by the groanings and incoherent mutter- 
ings made by Mr. Richeson. The noises were very 
unnatural and we at first thought that he had suddenly 


fallen asleep and was having a nightmare or bad dream, 
but as the noises continued and increased we became 
alarmed and went to his room. He was undressed and 
in bed; he was in a semi-conscious state and seemed to 
be suffering both physically and mentally. We tried 
to arouse him to consciousness, but he would not re- 
spond either by word or action but kept up meaningless 
mutterings." Mr. Howe then called Dr. Root of 
Georgetown, who treated him, and he became more 
calm but remained in bed the next day and part of the 
day following. After a few days he returned to his 
school in such a weakened condition that he appeared 
to be "very near a wreck." Continuing, Mr. Howe 
states that "he told us he had suffered at times in a like 
manner for a long time and had similar attacks while 
in El Paso and other places ; that at one time while at 
Newton School he fell unconscious and remained so 
until nearly morning when he managed to get up and 
stagger to his room. During our acquaintance of over 
a year my continued attempt to better understand him 
was balked by his strange manner and our acquaintance 
ceased in March, 1908." 

At the time of his illness in September, 1907, Mr. 
Howe wrote to Richeson's sister, Miss Katherine 
Richeson, who was then a student in Farmville, Va., 
and requested her to notify her father. "I considered 
him to be in a very serious condition and had grave 
fears that he might become worse and therefore 
/ deemed it my duty to notify his people." 

While attending the Newton Theological Seminary 
in 1907 he was engaged to one and possibly two young 
women at the same time. He entered this Seminary 
in 1906, graduating in 1909, and returned in 1910 to 


take a post-graduate course in the Old Testament. A 
number of young women in Newton Center who knew 
him during his student days, in spite of their disagree- 
ments as to his other personal characteristics, all agreed 
that he possessed a remarkable fascination and was able 
to exercise an almost hypnotic influence over them. 
They say he never had much of a reputation as a stu- 
dent; but that he held their respect and they liked 
him. Some of his fellow-students in Newton described 
him as alternating ''between suavity and fiery impetu- 
osity" which turned some of them into his enemies. 
His work as a student was erratic and poor and he had 
''the politeness of a Southerner and the natural conceit 
of a handsome man." Descriptions of his character 
present a mass of contradictions; on the one side we 
have the eloquent preacher, the earnest worker, the 
struggling student, the revered pastor; on the other, the 
calculating self-seeker, the double dealer, the college 
cheat, the profane talker and the seducer of women. 
Men at large never liked him, but those in his church 
stood by him despite damning evidence produced 
against him. Women were attracted to him and he held 
them with a personality that seemed little short of mag- 
netic. He is said to have had considerable friction with 
the church authorities at Hyannis which influenced him 
to resign and take charge of the church in Cambridge. 
A paper, in describing his last church service, says: 
"There is nothing more bitterly ironical in the whole 
case than the sermon of last Sunday morning in which 
he used the death of Avis Linnell almost as a text to 
draw a lesson on the fleeting and unstable happiness of 
life. Parishioners who heard that last discourse were 
so moved that they refused to believe that the man who 


so eloquently pointed the way could himself be one who 
had strayed so far from the path of righteousness." 

The following is a copy of a letter that he wrote to a 
young lady to whom he was engaged and of whom he 
was very fond. It was written immediately after an 
attack such as has been described above and which 
lasted several days. This letter (similar to others 
written following attacks) is published because it shows 
his confused and irresponsible condition following one 
of these attacks. 

Newton Center, Mass., 

Friday, 6 p. m., Sept. 20, 1907. 
My darling * * * My Little Girl, I love you and you will 
know it, won't you. Your's written this morning just came, your's 
this morning come just now at 4.30. I am glad you are resting and 
hope you will get stout again. I am glad you had a nice time. I am 
not working so hard. I did not understand the Dr. to say that I 
should stop school? I had to attend five lectures today but I only 
have one tomorrow morning. Then I wish you were here to go for 
a ride. I am going to Higham this Sunday. I always dread going 
to a new church. But suppose I can stand it since I am not on trial. 

* * * will you please burn the letter I wrote that made you tele- 
graph me and the one I wrote the night I came home this week. I 
kept copy. Why I wrote it I cannot tell. It should never have 
gone to you if I could have stopped it. But I went to the mail box 
in the Hall next morning too late to stop it. It had gone. Will you 
burn it and not think of it any more? I must go mail this now and 
come back and go to bed early, for this has been a hard day for me, 
so I must go to bed now and mail this now and so on and on. Hope 
you will keep well * * * and not work too much either. 

* * * will you go and see the Dr., not tell not tell him I sent 
you Dear, sent you. But just ask him but just ask him and tell him 
if he meant that I should not go to school Wednesday. When the 
train got into Boston I was asleep when the train got in I was 
asleep and they woke me to get up and to get off the train, and I 
dont know how long I had been there and I (for I do not know 
how long I had) could not for a long time tell (been there you 
know I could not tell where I was. And I could not tell my own 
name for I did not know my name name name nor think of you 
know I could not tell it where I wanted to go. But just walked 
around till I got to the South Station to go to the South Station 


supper then I walked and walked and around and around and saw 
the name around Newton and then I knew that I wanted to go here. 
And I came home and wrote and I wrote you two letters you two 
letters. I kept one this thing I never do and this I never do. I can- 
not tell why * * * I should never have written you. Because 
I should never have that w^ay for it was not in my — for you know it 
could not be — heart ever to do such a thing. I had never thought 
of it, and when your letter came this evening, I felt as never before. 
For there was never such a girl as * * * any place in all the 
world. I know there was never a Dearer Woman living. You just 
did not say a word, just said not a word. * * * J cannot tell 
why I wrote as I did. I had never thought so. And I can manage 
things all O.K. And if I could not I should never say such things 
as I wrote to you. I do not even remember when I wrote it. Now 
I remember while I was in the city several people watched me and 
on the train too. And when I got off at Newton they looked at 
me so strange, they looked at me so strange. And I wonder that I 
am — now looking looking at me so strange — living at all when I 
think of all I have been through with no sleep Sat. night, none Sun- 
day night nor Monday and not much Tuesday and you must come 
to see me some — (* * * you wont ever forsake me will you 
Darling) time when you come will you, just tell me once more you 
won't. And if I know myself I'll never wrote again less I know I 
am all right, I love you with all that I am. 


This confused and irresponsible condition some- 
times lasted for several days, and during these attacks 
and following them he was not responsible for his acts 
or conscious of what he did or said. These attacks 
came with more frequency as he grew older. 

Dr. Richmond B. Root of Georgetown, Mass., makes 
oath that he was called to the house of A. S. Howe to 
see Mr. Richeson in September, 1907; that he found 
him ^'lying in bed tossing about, apparently in a semi- 
dazed or unconscious condition and talking irrationally 
and incoherently and I was unable to get a connected 
story from him as to the cause of his condition. He 
was tossing about after the fashion of a person suffer- 
ing from hysteria. I prescribed for him. I saw him a 


day or two after and the effects of this attack seemed 
to have passed away." 

In 1908 he took the pastorate of a church at Hyannis, 
Mass., and E. Isadora V. Hallett of Hyannis makes 
affidavit that Richeson came to room with her in June, 
1908, when he entered upon his pastorate, and remained 
with her until June, 1909, when he moved to Mrs. 
Wyman's; that he again took a room at her house in 
November, 1909, which he occupied until April, 1910, 
when he resigned from the Hyannis Church to accept 
a call to the Immanuel Baptist Church in Cambridge. 
She states that she went to a prayer meeting one 
Wednesday evening in March, 1909. Mr. Richeson 
did not attend the prayer meeting and as soon as it was 
over she hastened to his room and found him lying in 
bed. She said, ''Mr. Richeson, what is matter with 
you?" He did not reply nor open his eyes nor move a 
muscle. She telephoned to Dr. Binford, who came 
about nine o'clock. When the Doctor came down she 
asked him how Mr. Richeson was and the Doctor put 
his hand to his own head as much as to say that it was 
his brain. She goes on to state that when she got back 
from telephoning for the Doctor some of Mr. Riche- 
son's parishioners were at the house, they having also 
noticed he was not at the meeting, and continues: 
''That night I heard him talking, but I could not under- 
stand what he said; he seemed to be talking incoherent- 
ly. The condition continued until Friday noon when 
he came downstairs all right. Later there was another 
attack not so severe." 

Dr. Ferdinand A. Binford of Hyannis made affidavit 
that he had been a practising physician and surgeon 
since 1898; that he knew Mr. Richeson personally all 


the time he was pastor of the Baptist Church in Hyan- 
nis and treated him professionally; that on the 24th of 
March, 1909, he opened and removed a calloused place 
on his right hand; that it was a painful operation but 
performed without administering any anaesthetic. At 
the end of the operation Richeson seemed to be more 
or less affected by the nervous strain he had gone 
through. The operation was performed at i P. M. ; he 
says: ''That same night about 9 o'clock I was called 
to see him at the residence of Mrs. Hallet, with whom 
he was boarding, and when I arrived I found there 
were with him two or three men whom I knew to be 
members of his church; he was acting violently and 
they were trying to control and quiet him both by 
words and by attempting to restrain him by physical 
force. He appeared at times to be partly conscious; 
then he would go into a state whereby he lost conscious- 
ness and was practically unconscious, apparently had no 
knowledge of what he was doing or saying. During 
this period of time he talked irrationally, raved in- 
coherently, and physically manifested an abnormal 
degree of strength; in fact was so pov>^erful while in 
this state that it took the combined efforts of three 
men, including myself, to restrain him from getting 
from his bed and out of the room; upon one occasion 
he was successful in so overpowering us that he really 
got to the door of his room before we again got con- 
trol of him. I deemed it necessary to administer a 
strong injection of morphine which quieted him, and 
some of his parishioners remained with him all night. 
They said that he slept but little. The next morning 
I found him quiet and rational but physically quite 


weak. I had no doubt he was entirely abnormal and 
irresponsible during that attack when he was so violent 
and incoherent. I made five visits to him thereafter, 
my last being the 31st of March, 1909, when he was ap- 
parently as normal as he ever was. On June 12, 1909, 
I was called to him again and he had another attack 
of great mental excitability, but that was of short du- 

Betsy R. Wyman, in an affidavit, states that she had 
known Clarence V. T. Richeson since he arrived in 
Hyannis to take up his pastorate and until he left there; 
that during the period while he was there he took meals 
with her and lodged in her house; that about August, 
1910, he came to her house at 1 1 o'clock one night much 
excited, face white, and said: "I believe I am going 
crazy; I cannot stand the things that are being put 
upon me.'' His whole manner and appearance were 
wild and excited and he remained in this strange con- 
dition for two hours or more, then became quiet and 
retired. During this "spell" he screamed violently. 
She remembers another occasion some two or three 
months later when he came home late one night and 
acted strangely, went to his room, was moving about 
and tossing on the bed, running his hands through his 
hair, and that his face was white and his eyes had a 
wild, strange look and he talked very excitedly. He 
said that he was compelled to undergo things that were 
completely upsetting him and wearing him out. She 
said : ''He screamed violently while in this spell which 
continued until four o'clock in the morning when I 
became so alarmed that I called Dr. Binford, who came 
to the house and treated him. From time to time he 


had these 'spells,' as I should call them, and both my 
husband and myself said he was crazy. On some of 
these occasions he was more violent than others." 

Dr. Charles H. Harwood of Hyannis in an affidavit 
says that he is 48 years of age and has been a practising 
physician for 20 years, graduating from Harvard Uni- 
versity and Medical School; that he has given par- 
ticular attention to the study of insanity and kindred 
subjects at the University and at the hospitals for the 
insane in Massachusetts. He states that he met Clar- 
ence V. T. Richeson in Hyannis in the summer of 1909 
at the time he was preparing a thesis for his graduation. 
"I observed him and the peculiarity I noticed then was 
his apparent apathy regarding his work. He seemed 
to be abstracted in manner and not to have any interest 
or enthusiasm in the work at hand. The next time I 
saw him to talk with was with reference to a robbery 
that he claimed had been committed whereby certain 
property belonging to him — his monthly salary as a 
minister — had been stolen . . . about the first week in 
December, 1909. I had heard of this robbery, and on 
meeting Mr. Richeson on the train I talked with him 
to see what he had to say about it. I was familiar with 
the premises, and had prepared a sketch of the rooms 
in the house where he claimed the robbery had been 
committed. I showed him this diagram at the outset of 
the conversation and he became very much disturbed 
and excited and wanted to know how I had obtained it. 
He made an elaborate statement of the robbery and of 
the circumstances under which he claimed it was com- 
mitted, including the condition in which he found his 
room when he returned to the house. As a student of 
criminology I had become interested in this case which, 


in the minds of the community, seemed to be a very 
singular one. State Police Officer Bradford had re- 
quested me to investigate it because of very curious 
circumstances surrounding it. I had made some in- 
vestigation previous to the time of this conversation, 
and I knew that many of the circumstances he related 
to me were not true and were not borne out by the 
facts. What impressed me as a physician most was, 
that after his first excitement incident to my first allu- 
sion to the robbery had passed off, he seemed to evince 
no further interest in the robbery and no sense of per- 
sonal loss; his sole concern appeared to be in what he 
said was an interruption of God's work.' He even 
intimated that there might have been no robbery, and 
that the money would appear later. He seemed to be 
not in the slightest impressed with the fact that the 
matter was being investigated by the proper authori- 

Dr. Harwood said "his whole state of mind appeared 
insane and this impression was confirmed by his talk 
about his clothes, his egotism ; and in a subsequent inter- 
view he confirmed the appearance of a man suffering 
from insanity. He announced that he did not let his 
right hand know what his left hand did in good works 
and to me he clearly conveyed the impression that he 
was sole judge of the right or wrong of what he saw 
fit to do in 'doing God's work.' " 

This robbery to which Dr. Harwood refers is de- 
scribed by Richeson's landlady as follows: Richeson 
came home one day and showed her his pay in an 
envelope which he then left on his bureau in her pres- 
ence. Having occasion to go away from the house to 
preach or for some other purpose, he soon returned and 


called her, saying that the money had been stolen and 
his room was in apparent disorder. She notified the 
State Police and the above investigation followed with- 
out results so far as obtaining any clues were concerned ; 
that later the money came back a few dollars or a dollar 
at a time in envelopes with the addresses printed instead 
of written. She noticed that these envelopes always 
came on Mondays following Mr. Richeson's absence 
while supplying some out of town pulpit and were post- 
marked from the town in which he had preached. On 
his return he would often find these letters awaiting 
him and showed them to her, expressing the belief that 
the person who took the money was sending it back 
because his conscience was troubling him. All or 
nearly all of the money was finally returned in this 

In April, 191 1, Mr. Richeson received a severe blow 
on the head in getting out of an elevator at the Free 
Hospital for Women, Brookline, where he went to visit 
a member of his congregation, through a mistake of the 
elevator man in starting before he got out; his head 
was bruised and it was necessary to call a physician. 
He was in bed for three days and when he got up 

dragged one of his legs when he walked. Mrs, — 

makes affidavit that this difficulty became worse until 
he seemed to have lost the use of both legs and could 
not bear his weight on his feet. 

Mrs. of Brookline, made affidavit that on or 

about the I St day of May, 191 1, Rev. Clarence V. T. 
Richeson, with whom she was acquainted, called at her 
residence and she saw from his appearance that he was 
greatly agitated. Continuing, she says: "He told me 
he had just been to call upon a person sufifering from 


pneumonia and that while there the person had died, 
and he asked for a glass of water. I went upstairs, but 
In a few moments (this was about 8 o'clock in the 
evening), I was called down and found him in a very 
strange state, sitting down, trembling violently all over 
and weeping. It alarmed me and I gave him a prep- 
aration of tincture of valerian, followed by a cup of 
hot malted milk. It was ii o'clock that night before 
he quieted down to anything like a normal state, when 
he said he would go home. I did not think he was in a 
condition to go home. His appearance was strange 
and most distressing. On or about May 14, 191 1, Mr. 
Richeson was again at my house and had another attack 
similar to the one described but not so severe in char- 
acter and it did not last as long. About a week later he 
again came to my house in a very nervous condition 
and looked very excited, very white, very dark under 
the eyes, and as on all these occasions he seemed to get 
very rigid and after the attacks had passed away he 
seemed to become perfectly limp and not to have a par- 
ticle of strength, as if completely broken down from 
nervous exhaustion. I know that he was ill in bed from 
about the 5th to the loth of June, 191 1, and was more or 
less in bed until the 28th of June. On Sunday evening, 
the 1 8th of June, I was called upon the telephone by 
Mr. Carter of Cambridge, who said Mr. Richeson was 
in a very excited condition and wanted to see me. About 
a half an hour later I was again called by a friend and 
acquaintance of Mr. Richeson, Rev. Mr. Smith, who 
said the doctor had arrived and wanted me to come to 
Mr. Richeson if I could. This was about 10.30 at 
night and I arrived at his house some time after 11. 
On my arrival I found a very excited group of persons. 


One of them said to me that he thought Mr. Richeson 
was crazy. I said, 'Well, let me go up and see him,' 
and Mr. Smith called for me to come to Mr. Riche- 
son's room. I went upstairs and found him lying on 
the bed, trembling, groaning and crying. He said, 

'Mrs. , is that you?' and seized hold of my hand 

with a vise-like grasp, saying, 'Now, you will sit here 
with me, won't you?' There were three men in the 
room, Mr. Carter, Mr. Smith and a young man, and 
I said, 'If you men will go out of the room I will take 
care of Mr. Richeson.' They said, 'Oh, no'; that they 
could not leave me alone as he was violent. I said I 
was not afraid and the men went out of the room. I 
then said to him, 'I am going to stay and take care of 
you; you need not worry.' About this time he was 
trembling violently and said, 'Is there a man there?' 
pointing about the room. A little later his own physi- 
cian. Dr. Gardner, gave him some medicine, saying it 
would put him to sleep. I sat by his bed all night, but 
he did not sleep. Every few minutes he would jump 
up with a start, very frightened, saying there was some- 
body in the room. 

"As the night wore on he got somewhat over that and 
by morning seemed to be very quiet. While this Dr. 
Gardner was there he carried Mr. Richeson in his arms 
to the bath and back again as he was unable to walk 
himself. About the ist of July, 191 1, Mr. Richeson 
went to Hyannis. I was very much exercised about his 
going, as I did not think he was physically or mentally 
in a condition to take care of himself. Every day from 
the time of this illness until the 28th of June I went to 
his lodging house and stayed until evening. I thought 
he ought to have somebody with him. One Sunday 


evening the last of June, 191 1, he got into another state 
of nervousness and talked irrationally and irresponsi- 
bly and / said to my family we must try to persuade 
him to have a good nerve specialist; I feel very anxious 
that he is not right and needs examination. His physi- 
cian, however, thought that perhaps he would be better 
if he had plenty of fresh air and sleep, so the matter 
was dropped. 

"On Monday afternoon, October 16, 191 1, Mr. Riche- 
son was seated in a morris chair in the library in our 
home at Brookline when he was taken violently ill. 
My attention was called to him when I heard him 
groaning. I immediately went to him and found him 
stretched out full length on the seat in the hall, writh- 
ing and groaning, and spoke to him, but he made no 
answer and was apparently suffering great pain. I 
shook him, attempting to arouse him, but could not; 
his eyes were closed. Others spoke to him, but he made 
no answer and seemed to be growing worse all the time. 
His face was getting purple. I sent for the doctor, who 
came immediately and took charge of him. The doctor 
said he did not think it was an epileptic fit, but was 
more in the nature of a nervous manifestation and 
seemed to be somewhat disturbed; he said he thought 
Mr.' Richeson's difficulty was a very serious one and 
that he ought to be examined by some expert physician 
as to these attacks.'^ 

Corroborative of Mrs. 's statement. Dr. Herman 

T. Baldwin of Chestnut Hill, Mass., made oath that 
about noon on October 17, 191 1, he received a telephone 

call to go at once to the residence of to see 

Clarence V. T. Richeson; that he found Mr. Richeson 
lying on his side on the window seat in the front hall, 


breathing rapidly, occasionally twisting his body and 
contracting his arms and hands; his eyes were tightly 
closed 2indht (Dr. Baldwin) could not open them. "At 
times he would lie quiet with muscles relaxed and 
breathing easily; he made no response when spoken to; 
there was no frothing at the mouth; at times he cried 
out. / considered this an attack of hysteria and recom- 
mended a consultation later with a nerve specialist." 

The following is an account of what I believe to have 
been an hysterical attack associated with delirium and 
hallucinations which he had at Cambridge. The Rev. 
E. J. Smith writes from the Rochester Theological 
Seminary, Rochester, N. Y., that he knew Mr. Riche- 
son, but left Cambridge before Richeson went to the 
Carter home to live; that his first knowledge of Riche- 
son's illness happened while Richeson was rooming at 
a boarding-house on Bigelow St., kept by a Mrs. Gib- 

"The breakdown came about the 15th of June, 
and began with a nervousness and inability to sleep; 
on Saturday, the 17th of June, George Richards, treas- 
urer of the church, was accidentally drowned in the 
Charles River. When Richeson heard this news the 
next morning he was much stirred. He did not seem 
himself during the day and was completely unnerved 
by the time services were finished Sunday night. The 
funeral of Mr. Richards was held on Tuesday, Riche- 
son conducting the services. After the services at the 
house Richeson said he felt so ill he thought it best he 
should not go to the grave, and I went in his place, 
returning directly to Richeson's room on Bigelow St. 
Hardly had I arrived when a telephone message came 
from Mr. Richeson saying he had gone directly to the 


home of Miss in Brookline after the funeral 

and was about to leave there; that he was feeling very 
ill and wanted me to meet him at the corner of Boylston 
St. A few minutes after I arrived at the appointed 
place I saw him alighting from a car in a most depleted 
condition. Had I not known him well I should have 
certainly thought he was intoxicated ; we were obliged 
to wait some ten minutes for the Cambridge car, during 
which time at short intervals Richeson was taken with 
spells, when his entre body underwent nervous twite h- 
ings of a violent character and tears streamed from his 
eyes; he seemed dazed and unstrung and was almost 
physically helpless by the time the car came. I had to 
almost lift him to the running board and lift him down 
at the other end of the route. I put him immediately 
to bed and called a doctor. Later in the evening I 
found him moaning and I went to his side and asked 
'what the trouble was.' He replied, 'Smith, I want to 
go home to Jesus; don't want to live any longer. I 
have tried to do right, but I guess that I have failed.' 

Still later he told me he had gone to see the of 

Brookline and that he had tried to break his engage- 
ment to the daughter. He remained in a very weak- 
ened condition for two days, or until Thursday, when 

at his request I called up the and the young 

lady. Miss , and her mother came over and 

stayed with him part of the afternoon. Richeson's en- 
gagement to Miss existed at the time of arrest 

and so far as known was never broken. Richeson did 
not appear to be improving and I preached for him on 
the following Sunday, June 25, both morning and eve- 
ning. At Richeson's request I called up Mr. Carter, 
arranging for him to come over and stay with Richeson 


while I was at the evening service. When I left he 
seemed to be resting; upon my return the whole house 
was in a commotion; a doctor was there and Richeson 
was crying like a baby. I thought he recognized me 
at once and he began to complain that the doctor and 
Carter were trying to kill him with poison. He said 
he knew too much about drugs for them to try anything 
like that on him. Then he wanted me to call his own 

doctor and also the and get them to come over, 

saying that the doctor would use him square and the 

would see that he was well taken care of and not 

act like 'those damned lying hypocrites' in the room 
there. I tried to get the doctor but failed, pretended 

to call up the , then left for the doctor's office. 

On the way back to Richeson I called up the Brook- 
line house and received word that Mrs. would 

start immediately. 

'When I returned to the room I made the report to 
Richeson which seemed to make him easier and assured 
him I would do all I could for him. After a little while 
he asked me to pray, which I started to do. Before I 
got very far with the prayer he interrupted with the 
words, 'Damn you. Smith; if you don't tell him the 
truth, if you don't tell him the truth, if you have been 
lying to me, I will pray to God to roast your soul in 
seven kinds of burning Hell. That is a nice way to 
treat a sick man; I will get up and go for the doctor 
myself. It is much better to tell the truth than to pray.' 
We had a hard time to keep him quiet, but soon the 
doctor came and after giving him some medicine he 
fell into a fitful sleep. I stayed with him for a day or 
two, when I had to leave." 

Mrs. Margaret Gibbons of i6 Bigelow St., Cam- 


bridge, with whom Mr. Richeson boarded for three 
months prior to the latter part of June, is reported to 
have said that she did not want him longer because 
"I lost several roomers as a result of his peculiar habit 
of swearing. He swore violently when he had sick 
spells. He was very domineering, acted as if he owned 
the place. He had very peculiar spells. One day when 
he had friends to dine with him he suddenly left the 
room and was gone so long that I investigated and 
found him half reclining on the couch in his rooms; 
his eyes looked funny. I spoke to him; he did not 
answer. I shook him by the legs ; he paid no attention. 
I shouted loudly and slapped his hand so hard the 
noise was heard downstairs. Still he paid no attention 
to me. While here he was treated by several physi- 
cians; when they gave him drugs he would hold them 
tightly in his hand and cry, 'I will not take them; they 
are trying to poison me.' At such times he would swear 
so loud that he was heard all over the neighborhood. 
On his dresser he kept pictures of Miss Linnell and 

Miss . The latter was a frequent visitor here, 

but she was always accompanied by either her mother 
or another member of the family. Miss Linnell spent 
a Saturday afternoon in May in his room. I saw her 
when she left the house with him. On his return he 
remarked to me, 'I had my lady friend with me in my 
room all the afternoon.' " Richeson is said to have had 
similar attacks when rooming with a Mrs. Crothers, 
23 Bigelow St., and at Mrs. Tray's. 

Dr. David C. Dow, a practising physician in Cam- 
bridge, made an affidavit that on Sunday evening, June 
18, 191 1, at about 8 P. M., he was called by Frank Car- 
ter to attend a friend of his who he said was uncon- 


scious; that he responded immediately and went to No. 
i6 Bigelow St. where he found Clarence V. T. Riche- 
son and told Mr. Carter that he would sit beside him 
and observe him. Dr. Dow states "The patient was pale, 
active and restless, and as I entered the room he was 
screeching loudly. Mr. Carter introduced me but the 
patient stared at me giving no sign of recognition and 
was apparently unconscious of the attempted introduc- 
tion. I seated myself on the side of the bed and attempt- 
ed to gain his confidence. I examined him carefully; 
I found no evidence of organic disease. I stroked his 
hair with my hand in a soothing fashion and while I 
was doing so he screeched out in a loud tone constantly 
growing louder ^Carter, Carter, Carter, who is that man 
at the foot of the bed?' at the same time looking and 
pointing in that direction. As there was no person there 
I saw at once that he was the victim of a hallucination. 
Mr. Carter attempted to quiet him in my presence and 
asked if he did not know that he was Mr. Carter, but 
Richeson made no response. I made an examination 
of his body and searched his room but saw no evidence 
of drugs or alcohol. I found his razor which I hid 
back of his bookcase. By sitting beside him and gently 
rubbing his scalp I somewhat quieted him. Up to 9.30 
I gave him no medicine because I first wanted to know 
what his previous medical treatment had been. Rev. 
Mr. Smith arriving I sent him for some bromide and 
while he was gone Richeson suddenly fell out of bed on 
the floor in a heap and with a groan. His facial expres- 
sion was like that of one suffering acute pain. He made 
no effort to arise and after allowing him to lie for a time 
Mr. Carter and I lifted him up on the bed. At the 
same time Mr. Smith returned with the medicine and 


Richeson burst out violently screeching in language sub- 
stantially as follows: 'Smith, those two damn fools have 
allowed me to fall from the bed to the floor and hurt 
myself and expose myself, and that is not swearing 
either.' He then had another violent spell of talking 
irrationally and irresponsibly and screeching out and 
still demanding to know who was at the foot of the bed. 
Mr. Smith knelt down beside the bed to pray; he 
prayed for a few minutes but Richeson reached over 
and seized him by the neck and said 'Damn you, Smith, 
stop your praying; I don't need your prayers; pray for 
some of my Hellish parishioners who need them more 
than I do, who have kept me on starvation wages and 
have taken $600 of my grandmother's money.' Mr. 
Smith was much agitated and both he and Mr. Carter 
were so shocked at such language from their pastor and 
friend that they apologized to me. I said to them at 
that time 'As a result of my observation I don't think 
you need to attempt to explain it, for in my opinion 
Clarence Richeson's brain is gone.' 

"I attempted to give him the medicine but he abso- 
lutely refused to take it. I also attempted to give him 
nourishment, some beef tea the landlady had brought 
but during all this time he was raving on and was more 
or less profane. He was making such wild commotion 
that the landlady appealed to me to quiet him as he 
was disturbing the house and she would lose her board- 
ers. I told her to be charitable as in my judgment the 
minister was mentally irresponsible. I stepped out of 
sight, but he still kept pointing at the foot of the bed de- 
manding of Mr. Carter an explanation of the imaginary 
figure at the foot of the bed. Mr. Carter said 'Brother 
Richeson, do you mean Dr. Dow?' whereupon Richeson 


violently screamed 'That, that, that thing a doctor? He 
is not fit to treat mosquitoes in my back alley,' pointing 
all the time and looking intently at the foot of the bed 
where there was nobody. 

"I attempted to get medicine into him without suc- 
cess. Beef tea was brought and Carter attempted to 
give it to him but sitting up in bed he held the cup of 
tea and in a most wild, agitated and violent way he said 
'Carter, Carter, Carter, is there anything in that? If 
there is, Carter, I hope you will be burned in the seven 
fires of Hell.' All this time his eyes had a wild, insane 
look; they did not look right. For half an hour he sat 
with the cup of tea in his hands and asked and asked if 
there was anything in it. Finally, upon the most posi- 
tive assurance from Mr. Carter, Mr. Smith and his 
landlady that there was nothing in the beef tea he took 
one or two teaspoons but no more. I remained with 
him almost till i o'clock in the morning, up to which 
time his ravings, hallucinations and excitement contin- 
ued. Learning his regular physician was on the way 
to him I left as he was then in a condition in which I 
felt I could leave him in the hands of responsible people 

with whom he was acquainted, including Mrs. 

who had arrived at the house. I told Mrs. that 

in my judgment Richeson was suffering from neuras- 
thenia or nervous exhaustion; that it was not a case for 
drugs nor a general practitioner to handle. I said I 
thought that this man should not go hack into his pulpit 
for six months or a year hut should be committed to an 
institution not necessarily an insane hospital and I 
strongly advised her to put ^him under the care of men 
well versed in mental diseases. I think this is a mental 
disturbance and he ought to be placed under the care of 


men specializing in mental disease. Mr. Carter left 
the house with me and before getting into my auto- 
mobile I said with all the earnestness of which I was 
capable 'Carter, you ought not to let this man get by 
you; he needs no drugs nor medicine; he ought to have 
the care of one of the best alienists or neurologists. He 
ought not to go back into his pulpit for at least six 
months or a year for at the present time his brain is 
gone/ I said 'Carter, he is insane.' Carter replied 
'Well, you ought to hear some of his sermons,' to which 
I answered 'Never mind his sermons; I am not inter- 
ested in his sermons; that man is insane.' At that mo- 
ment Mr. Smith came up to my automobile and I said 
to him 'Smith, your friend Clarence Richeson is insane. 
You see to it that he has the best alienist look after him.' 
I said this with all the earnestness of which I was cap- 
able because I so strongly felt that to be the actual fact 
and suggested that if his regular physician did not ar- 
rive they call Dr. Bryant who was an able and compe- 
tent alienist. I returned after this five hours' visit com- 
pletely worn out and exhausted." 






On April 30th, 191 2, I made my first examination of 
Richeson. I found him seated alone in a large and 
sunny cell in the Charles Street Jail facing the Charles 
River; one might consider it a room, and leading from 
it was an inner cell in which was a colored man named 
Butts who was in the Jail charged with manslaughter. 
Sheriff Quinn said he felt it necessary to have a watch 
over Richeson and thought he would prefer to have a 
colored man born in Virginia and so placed Butts in 
the communicating cell as Richeson's valet and com- 
panion. Butts was later called Richeson's "Man Fri- 
day." Richeson was seated in a comfortable chair and 
was in a deep study. He greeted me without show of 
emotion or interest, his face being immobile. He put 
his hand out for me to shake but it was perfectly flaccid 
and there was no movement of his hand or fingers more 
than if they had been of wood. He asked me no ques- 
tions but said that he did not usually see people without 
consulting his counsel. I explained to him I had come 
to examine him mentally and physically and asked him 
if he had objections. He said he had not and volun- 
teered that Dr. Lane had made one short examination 
of him and that he thought he had seen one or two other 



doctors but was not quite sure whether they were doc- 
tors or not. I sat down and in starting my notes asked 
him the day and date. He looked at the calendar and 
said "Oh, I have not torn ofif this month's page," where- 
upon he proceeded to do so and said it was Wednesday, 
May I St. 

He said his full name was Clarence Virgil Thompson 
Richeson; age 35;* born February 15, 1876, in Rose 
Hill, Amherst, Va. Father temperate but nervous. 
(During examination patient kept cracking his finger 
joints.) First thing he remembered was when his col- 
ored nurse picked him up after a fall down the front 
steps. Did not remember what happened but there had 
been a "knubble" on the upper part of the back of his 
head ever since he was three years old. His family re- 
moved from Rose Hill when he was three. At about six 
he remembered he was struck in the forehead by his 
elder brother. His mother told him she sent for the doc- 
tor and when he arrived he (Richeson) was still asleep. 
The scar was located about 2^ inches above the meet- 
ing point of the eyebrows. When about seven he was 
riding on a horse sitting behind his uncle when the horse 
reared, and both slipped off and his head hit a rock. 
The hair never grew on that place again and it was so 
large, being about 3 inches in circumference, that when 
his father stood over him to teach him fractions he 
asked him what made him sobald. He had a headache 
and ringing in his head from the time of this accident 
until he was twxlve years old. His mother told him 
that during this time he always imagined he was fight- 
ing a bear when he went to sleep. He was also hit by 

* It is reported that he permitted his parishioners to celebrate his 29tb 
birthday when he was living in Cambridge. 


a. rock in the hands of a colored boy who was stoning 
chickens and was unconscious for twenty-four hours or 
more after he was taken in a wagon to his home fifteen 
miles away. His people told him that if aroused he 
talked but he never remembered anything about it. 

He said he had pneumonia at fourteen, at fifteen and 
at eighteen, and pleurisy at twenty-nine. Denied vene- 
real diseases or self abuse. Had been troubled all his 
life with nocturnal emissions. After one of these at 
seventeen years of age he went into an unconscious state 
and was in bed for a day or two. At that time he saw 
a Dr. Cooper of Carrolton, Mo., who gave him some- 
thing which made him "break out all over." Richeson 
said the doctor laughed at him and said it was a natural 
thing to happen. These had become less frequent. His 
first sex experience was at about twenty-three, when he 
was invited by a friend to visit two girls at what he 
said he thought was "some one's home parlor." He 
claimed the experience took place and was repeated 
while he was under the influence of whiskey which he 
drank while there. He remained until 3 A. M. In 
spite of the fact that he saw this same girl several times 
later in St. Louis he became very indignant in relating 
to me that after three years he found a letter written 
by her which reading as an acrostic made a suggestive 
request. He said "I was not long in destroying it, I 
tell you." 

The following is another incident in the life of Rich- 
eson as related by him: 

"When I was twenty-eight, a woman's husband was 
killed on a train. I was preaching at Kansas City and 
found crepe on the door and asked if I could do any- 
thing. To prove her case against the railroad she had 


to prove her residence, character, etc., and I made in- 
quiries for her and told what I learned. I had a sex 
experience with her. After this I keeled over in the 
pulpit and they say I fell into the deacon's arms, Mark 
Thompson, of Independence Ave., Kansas City, who 
later moved to California. Mr. Baker, a deacon, of 
Budd Park Section, Kansas City, also saw it as did 

Mrs. of Colorado.* This woman came to the 

house to see how I was and sympathized with me and 
grabbed me as she went out of the door and insisted on 
my having intimate relations with her. I do not re- 
member anything only I had two experiences at that 
time." He later went to tell her it must not occur again 
when he said "She got mad as the devil, and said I 
ought to marry her and I lost my head again. My next 
sex experience was at thirty-four with Avis Linnell in 
July, 1910." (In a later interview he said May, 191 1.) 
"My engagement was broken July 4; I had been en- 
gaged since July 4, 1909. She did not want to announce 
it until she finished school; said she would get married 
if I would quit the ministry and go into business. Sep- 
tember I St I saw her again and I sent her home from 
the Barnstable Fair. In the middle of September I 
called on her and she gave me my engagement ring 
back. I wanted to get married then. She wanted me 
to put it off and to go into something else beside the 
ministry. In October, 1910, she came to Boston to study 
music. I saw her occasionally from November, 1910, 
until May, 191 1, say seven or eight times." 

* In relating his accounts of the frequent attacks from which he suffered 
Richeson made it very plain that almost invariably each attack was preceded 
by either nocturnal emissions or some sex experience. Unpleasant sights 
or experiences caused a few attacks. He also related many sex experiences 
and much unpleasant detail which I have omitted. 


Richeson went to Hyannis the first of June, 1908, 
and remained until April i, 1910, studying at the Theo- 
logical Seminary in Newton in the meantime. He said 
he remembered he had one of his attacks June 12, 1909. 
In 1896 while in St. Louis, Mo., he had the first attack 
he remembered. He did not recall being out of doors 
in his night clothes at Potosi, Mo., though a cousin of 
his. May Townsend, told him that he ran about the 
barn at night in his night clothes. 

He did not remember any attack in El Paso, but said 
he left there because .of the high altitude; that he was 
nerved up all the time, being four months under a ter- 
rible nervous strain. He went to El Paso "to organize a 
church of persons who had split from the main body." 
He then thought he might have to give up preaching. 

Said he had an "attack" at the 's in Brookline at 

one time when he stayed there over night. In Dublin, 
N. H., in August, 191 1, he feared he might do or say 
something and wandered ofif. People searched for him. 
He remembered an attack following the sight of a 
parishioner who died of tuberculosis; said he had been 
studying hard and he first saw the body at the funeral. 
Said he could "stand just so much and then I go to 
pieces." Early in June, from the 5th to the loth, 191 1, 
he was in bed most of the time; had many nocturnal 
emissions; he was tired out. He finished his work on a 
Saturday and was so tired mentally that he went to a 
circus, returned and worked until ten; slept until four; 
continued work and study on Sunday and again went 
to bed on Monday following a sex experience. He did 
not like to stay alone because "Sex dreams waked me 
so." Funerals had always "taken hold" of him; some- 
times putting him to bed for days, even funerals of 


people he had never known. Afterwards it seemed as 
if everyone he met had been to a funeral. At one time 

Miss telephoned for him and he went to Brookline 

after a funeral and he ''went to pieces again." Did not 

remember sending for Miss of Brookline while 

in Cambridge. At times he had felt he was "losing 
his mind." Remembers Dr. Phillips' operation at St. 
Louis and believes Dr. Phillips thought it was neces- 
sary. Did not associate the operation with self mutila- 
tion. Did not remember particular letter sent to Miss 

of Georgetown telling of finding himself in the 

South Station. Was engaged to Miss of George- 
town from the Spring until the Fall of the year he 
went to Texas. She broke the engagement because a 
''doctor told her he was insane." He minded very 
much breaking the engagement. Said he never saw 
or heard of Mrs. Brittain who claimed he was a Mor- 
mon Elder and that she had seen him at their meetings.* 
In June or July, 1901, he had his first service; only 
missed seven Sundays in five years. Said he did three 
men's work while studying, attending country camp 
meetings and holding constant services "following sum- 
mer school." Later he returned to the Seminary. July 
21 was, he said, the last time he had intimate relations 
with Miss Linnell. Saw her the last of August when 
he was in Hyannis; thought he saw her only once that 
week. Saw her when she came to Boston to study music 
about the middle of September but had no intimate 
relations with her then or later. Next he saw her Octo- 
ber nth or 1 2th at the South Station with her mother 
whom she went to meet; met her at the station opposite 

•There are conflicting stories regarding his association with the Mor- 
mons but I did not feel that anything was conclusively proved about this. 


the telegraph office. Went from there to Arlington. 
Saw her the following Saturday, the day of her death. 

He said "On Tuesday, the loth of October, I bought 
cyanide; bought it to kill a dog and absolutely intended 
that. Did not buy chloroform because it would smell 
the house. Man did not charge me anything." Riche- 
son said he never asked him if he could keep a secret 
or say that a dog was about to have pups. He said "I 
was with Miss Linnell on Commonwealth Avenue and 
we sat on a bench, then dined at the Oak Grove Restau- 
rant on Boylston St. I do not recall the absolute de- 
tails of giving the poison; I did not give a capsule but 
crystals. I think I threw the rest of the cyanide away 
on Saturday evening. I never knew who telephoned 

me. Miss of Brookline called me on the telephone. 

I do not remember what I thought when I heard the 
news. Miss Linnell had told me she would do some- 
thing desperate if her condition was not relieved. I 
was not sure what really happened. I offered to marry 
her at the last interview; what weighed on me most was 
that she would rather die than be disgraced; suggested 
she go away where no one would know, but she re- 

He said ''On January 3d or 4th the confession was 
made. Mr. Morse and Mr. Lee wrote confession and 
I copied it. I never associated poison with Miss Lin- 
nell when I bought it. On reading the confession I 
said I could not reconcile it with what actually hap- 

"Avis Linnell gave me the ring back in September, 
1910. I was settled and wanted to get married and she 
would not get married until I left the church as her 
sister's family were not church people and opposed her 


marrying a minister. I think I met Miss of 

Brookllne before I met Miss LInnell. I did not go to 

Hyannis until June, 1908. I think I met Miss 

in 1907. A friend named Pierce asked me to take him 

to call on the girls in Brookllne in the fall of 

1910. I had met them both at receptions but I did not 

know one from the other. was the name of one 

(I did not know which one). I wrote to asking 

if I could call. I think I found out that was the 

name of the other, and I felt I could not ask to bring 
Pierce. I told him my heart failed me and I could not 

ask to bring him. I did not discover which was 

and which was . I received letters in two different 

handwritings signed either or , I cannot re- 
member which. Yes, they were always signed , 

I remember now. They later said they thought they 
would have a little fun with me. I first called in Octo- 
ber, 1910, and in November I took Pierce (Lawyer 
Dunbar has my letters and he can tell you the very 
dates). I then told Pierce that I had done him a social 
favor, that he could go all he wanted to but I did not 
believe in that courting business, that I was not going 
any more. 

"In December I received a note from for Pierce 

and I to go to dinner with them. I did not know then 

which was and which was , and it was when 

sitting at dinner Mrs. called one in asking 

her to sit down and that was the first time I knew which 
was which. About the middle of -February Pierce and 
I took them to the Symphony Concert and after we 
returned to the house was the first time I saw her to 
say a word no one else could hear. I told her I wanted 
to see her the next Tuesday and wanted to see her alone. 


I then saw her once a week up to March when the 
engagement was announced. 

"In July, Avis Linnell became pregnant. I had had 
relations with her since May. In May she threw her 
arms around me and said *I do not care who you are 
going to marry. I am going to have you just the same,' 
and I remembered what a man in Kansas City said to 
me, *A man will go to Hell for a girl if she looks at you 
that way.' I gritted my teeth and snapped my fingers 
and said I would not, and determined to come away 
but when leaving I just felt the devil had me. The 
next thing I remember was at daylight the next morn- 
ing. I woke up with a terrible headache and I had 
had one of those experiences which always preceded 
an attack. I had no recollection of coming home or 
going to bed. I dreamed I was on the back of a car. 
I went to sleep again but woke up to find the same 
thing happened. The next day I felt so miserable I 
could not study or make calls so took a car to Revere 
Beach. I felt as I always did after these and did not 
want to see anyone or do anything. I was living in 
Cambridge and when I returned I found a note from 
Miss Linnell to ask if I got home all right; that she 
thought I was ill when I left." He said she told him 
he fell in a chair and seemed unconscious and she 
poured some cold water on him and he jumped, then 
took his glasses, put them in the case and threw them 
across the room and stumbled downstairs. "I know I 
had a feeling I must go home before I became uncon- 
scious or I would ruin her. She sat on the arm of my 
chair and I knew what I did but I could not stop. I 
then felt I must give up everything and marry her and 
give up Miss of Brookline who I had been en- 


gaged to since March. Miss Linnell knew of the en- 
gagement to Miss which had been announced in 

the papers." 

He said relations persisted with Miss Linnell up 
until after July, 191 1 ; on all occasions every precaution 
was taken to protect her. "Although I saw her fre- 
quently it was not until October that she told me that 
she was pregnant. She admitted at this time that she 
had been to a woman doctor, a friend of hers, in at- 
tempt to be relieved from her present difficulty, and 
at that time a solution of potash was recommended for 
a douche." Regarding the purchase of the drug, Riche- 
son made the following statement: "I went to Hahn's 

drug store (the same day I met Mr. and Mrs. of 

Brookline and took supper with them) and asked for 
something to kill a dog that was messing up my room. 
He suggested chloroform. I said it would smell up 
the room too much. He then suggested arsenic but 
immediately said it would make the dog fat. He then 
suggested cyanide of potash. I said what and he said 
potash crystals. I told Miss Linnell I had these crys- 
tals to kill a dog. She said 'I have used those for a 
douche at the recommendation of a girl friend of mine 
on St. Botolph St., and I would not mind drinking 
some if they would make me all right.' This girl she 
said she met at a doctor's office on Tremont Street. I 
had a glass bottle with two pieces in it and I gave her 
one. I told her Hahn told me it was poison. She said 
*Oh you are fooling.' I first offered to give up every- 
thing and go to New York or Ohio and marry her after 

making a clean breast of the whole thing to Miss . 

She refused as she said she would not have her mother 
know her condition. I then urged her to see my physi- 


cian, Dr. Gardner. I left her at 2.30 and at 8 P. M. 
I was called on the telephone and asked if I was Miss 
Linnell's fiance. I said no. The person telephoning 
excused herself and said Miss Linnell had died sud- 
denly. I never told Miss of Brookline anything 

about my conversation with Miss Linnell or about my 
relations with her. It is not natural for a man to." He 

denied any relations with Miss of Brookline and 

his statement was later substantiated. He said "They 
tell me I was taken up to court and copied and signed 
a confession but I do not remember it. Morse hypno- 
tizes me. I just feel I shall die if I sit under him." 

When he was questioned as to the reported self muti- 
lation on Dec. 20, 191 1, at the Charles St. Jail, he said: 
"I fixed my toe at 8 P, M. The knife was left with 
me. The guards gave me medicine to make me sleep. 
The next thing I remember a man was sitting on my 
chest, another at his feet and a light was thrown on the 
floor and one said 'there is what he did it with.' " In 
relating this he seemed amused and smiling. He 
said "I think the man sharpened the tin and put it there 
to protect himself" and that he heard one man whisper 
to another 'Where is the knife?" With earnestness he 
said "I shall think to my dying day that two men came 
in and did it, the same men who sat on me." 

I made six examinations of Clarence V. T. Richeson 
in April and May. He was tall and emaciated. His 
face was pale, asymmetrical, the left side showing a 
lack of development. Chin rather long. The head 
on the frontal occipital measurement was 209 m. m.; 
biparietal 154 m. m. This made the length, breadth 
index of the head 73. All indices below 78 are con- 
sidered Dolichocephalic, 80 being the average. Back 

Taken at Charles Street Jail, April, 1912. 


of a vertical line drawn through the center of the ears 
the head was rather undeveloped being nearly flat. His 
upper jaw was under-developed drawing the alae of his 
nose in and up, giving the nose a very long appearance. 
The cheek bones were high and prominent, lower jaw 
prominent, chin long. Eyebrows heavy and irregular- 
ly arched. Eyes dark, and during the second examina- 
tion reacted to light and accommodation. Small Dar- 
win tubercle on each ear. Testing with steel points I 
found that there was anesthesia to pain on the entire 
left half of his body to the left of a line clearly drawn 
through the center of his forehead and face, chest and 
abdomen, complete hemi-anesthesia of the trunk and 
legs while on the arms anesthesia to pain was only found 
on an area on the outside of the right hand and arm 
from a line drawn between the second and third fingers 
to the elbow, front and back, which included the fourth 
and fifth or little finger. Punctures made with points 
violent enough to bring blood elicited no response from 
Richeson while within half an inch of the median line 
point pricks caused extreme pain. These tests were 
made in the presence of two people including Sheriff 
Quinn and it was not possible for the patient to have 
known what was being done when the tests were made 
for he was blindfolded and I was working from behind 
him much of the time. 

The hearing and vision on the side of the anesthesia 
was also blunted, the distance he heard on the left being 
one-third less than on the right and his vision on test 
of a certain size type was 89 inches with his right eye 
and 69 with the left, but the knee jerks and other re- 
flexes were normal. It was impossible for Richeson to 
meet the tests for coordination. Dermographia was 


very marked. Letters traced on his back and other 
portions of his body at the end of twenty minutes to 
half an hour were clear and like whipcords of bright 

While I was testing his pupils which were contracted 
he said: "Oh Dr. McCoomb and another minister ex- 
amined me a few days ago." His pulse was 93 and soft; 
his tongue rather beefy and on extension persistently 
deviated to the left of the median line. He had a tre- 
mendously heavy head of black hair, very coarse and 
wavy, parted on the side but difficult to keep in place. 
It grew well down to the outer eyebrows almost over 
the temple; in fact almost met the eyebrows; while the 
front of his forehead was rather high. His nose was 
pointed and asymmetrical and extended down in an ir- 
regular line; he denied that it was ever broken but said 
that it bled nearly every day. His teeth, regular and 
strong, the lower shutting somewhat over the upper and 
the surface of the upper and lower teeth much worn. 
The whites of his eyes showed below the pupils. When 
talking with him and as examination proceeded the 
pupils became very much dilated and did not then re- 
act. His arms were 34 inches long, hands heavy and 
fingers thick and stubby with extreme tremor on exten- 
sion; in fact there was a constant tremor of hands and 
slightly of the head. His fingers were stained which 
he said was the result of smoking a few cigarettes each 
day at the Jail, before he came there he said he smoked 
only cigars or a pipe. Standing on his feet with his 
eyes shut did not disturb him but when asked to assume 
the Romberg position with one foot raised he found it 
impossible. His coordination was extremely poor; 
after several efforts he found it absolutely impossible 


to meet the tests for coordination. His knee jerks were 
normal. His answers showed retardation, his voice be- 
ing slow and low. He was dressed neatly but frequently 
brushed the lapel of his coat with his hand as if brush- 
ing something off, and often during the examination he 
looked himself over apparently to see if his personal 
appearance was all right. I visited Richeson seven 
times and spent the greater part of six days in my exam- 
inations of him. 

It was reported that Richeson had offered his jailers 
$100 at two different times to buy and bring poison to 
him. When I asked Sheriff Quinn if the report was 
true he answered "I had reason to suspect Richeson was 
preparing to commit suicide a few days ago (in May, 
191 2) and I removed everything from his cell and 
placed him in another cell by himself. After his re- 
moval he gave a blank stare at first and then went to 
pieces, became noisy and violent and had great difficulty 
in getting his breath." In describing this attack at the 
Jail, Sheriff Quinn interpreted it as being caused by 
his removal from one cell to another. Dr. Cilley was 
called and gave him *'a good dose of morphine to bring 
him to himself and relieve him of his sufferings." Sher- 
iff Quinn said that when Richeson came out of the at- 
tack he told him that there was a great ball starting in 
his stomach and rising to his throat. After a few hours 
he returned to his cell and to his "Man Friday," Butts. 
Sheriff Quinn had Richeson closely observed during his 
incarceration and said "I do not think he has faked fits 
once since he has been here and there has been no at- 
tempt to fake insanity." 

I was permitted to make all of my examinations after 
my first in the large library of the Jail, alone excepting 


when accompanied by my stenographer or when I sent 
for officers to question them. After my final examina- 
tion of Richeson I read my findings to him. He listened 
attentively and said "I do not want to be made out in- 
sane" and added that he thought I had "been fair" in 
my examinations and statements, and if the Governor 
did not commute his sentence on my report he was will- 
ing to die to protect others. 

Not until April 25 did Richeson ask for a commuta- 
tion of the death sentence when he sent the following 

Boston, Mass., April 25, 1912. 
To his Excellency the Governor and 
The Honorable Council 
I respectfully request that the sentence of death pronounced against 
me by the Supreme Court for the County of Suffolk be commuted to 
imprisonment for life and I leave the presentation of this request and 
the reasons in support thereof to my counsel. 

Clarence V. T. Richeson. ^BC 

I presented my final report to Governor Foss on May 
13, as follows: 

64 Beacon St., 

Boston, Mass.. May 13, 1912. 
Governor Eugene N. Foss, 
State House, Boston, Mass. 
Dear Sir: 

In accordance with your request I have examined Clarence V. T. 
Richeson to ascertain whether he is sane or insane and if insane to 
designate the form of insanity from which he is suffering and to 
furnish you the data upon which I base my diagnosis. My opinion 
is based upon six examinations of Richeson, interviews with Sheriff 
Quinn in charge of the prisoner and with Mr. Morse his counsel and 
others in a position to observe him, and examination of all letters 
and affidavits relating to the case. 

At my first examination, made on April 30, Richeson was reticent 
and in such mental and physical condition that the physical tests were 
not satisfactory. After my examinations of May i and May 2, it 
was very evident that he was suffering from Hysterical Insanity. 

I then left at your office a preliminary report stating this was my 
opinion but that I wished to corroborate it by further physical tests 


and by examinaion of the affidavits in the case which up to this time 
I had never seen. 

I therefore submit my final report and opinion which is that Clar- 
ence V. T. Richeson is unquestionably suffering from Hysterical 
Insanity; an incurable form of mental disease, being chronic and 
progressive, which runs a slow course and does not materially disturb 
the intellectual faculties until its termination in dementia. It is 
usually founded on a bad heredity, and fastens itself on individuals 
who have stigmata of degeneration. The basis of Hysterical Insanity 
is degeneration. 

In Richeson's bad heredity, as clearly proved by numerous affidavits, 
and his stigmata of degeneration. Hysterical Insanity found just the 
soil necessary in which to develop. There is much in his history to 
show that he is mentally diseased, and at times irresponsible. 

Affidavits from physicians who have attended Richeson for many 
years in different parts of the country describe attacks which are 
so characteristic of Hystero-Epilepsy that a mistake cannot be made. 
Just preceding the activity of those attacks, during the attacks and 
for a subsequent period covering twelve to twenty-four hours and 
sometimes even longer, Richeson would be irresponsible. 

According to Bianchi, Paton, Dana and Church-Peterson, Hys- 
terical Insanity is a chronic, functional disorder characterized by 
nervous crises of an ernotional, convulsive or other nature, and by 
an interparoxysmal state in which certain marks or stigmata are pres- 
ent. It is essentially a psychosis. 

The stigmata of hysterical insanity are sensory, motor and psychic. 

In hysterical insanity the sensory disorders are anaesthesias and 

Anaesthesias may occur in three forms: — involving one-half the 
body, involving segments of the body or involving patches of the 

A corresponding hyperaesthesia or morbid sensibility of the nerves 
is often found. 

The subject is often incapable of performing several acts simul- 
taneously. Voluntary, intentional acts are usually weakened. Move- 
ments are retarded and incoordinate. There is a tendency to rigidi- 
ties or contractures. In hysterical patients local headaches, tremor 
and temporary feelings of weakness in arm or leg are common. 

Psychic stigmata include: i — Disturbances of the attention; 2 — 
Anomalies of emotion ; 3 — General interference with normal, mental 
functions — particularly noticeable in disturbances of memory and 
in the vivid play of the imagination. Many patients forget only 
facts connected with the train of thought, while retaining a logical 
and uninterrupted recollection of others. 

Impaired volition in the subjects reduces power of mental con- 
centration and renders them vacillating, impulsive and lacking in 


determination. Impressionability is often extremely developed and 
practically constitutes a mental stigma. 

Underlying the hysterical mental state there is a condition of 
suggestibility by means of which ideas and impressions easily be- 
come fixed and dominate the mind. Those unfortunate persons who 
are its victims are therefore creatures of impulse, controlled by their 
feelings and not by reason. In male hysterical insanity the tendencies 
are to morbid emotionalism, eroticism, exaggerated suggestibility, 
certain kinds of delusive suggestions, occasional threats, or apparent 
attempts at self injury or suicide. 

Of the predisposing causes, heredity is the most important. In 
about 75 per cent there is history of some neuroses or psychoses in 
the parents. 

Hallucinations are associated with marked emotional anomalies 
and are accompanied in many cases by attacks of pain. Delirium may 
be colored by marked sexual irritation. 

The hysterical subject has an infantile mind, — but sexually is an 
adult. Hysterical insanity is often accompanied by shameless sexual 
excesses carried out in an impulsive manner. Certainly the sexual 
instinct — precocious, perverted or repressed — furnishes preponderat- 
ing importance of the sexual life in the genesis of hysterical insanity. 

The most common of the paroxysms of hysterical insanity are out- 
bursts of laughing and crying, and after this, motor disturbances in 
the shape of convulsions of various types. The emotional crises 
are characterized by appearing zuithout any good cause. 

According to Church, there are four stages covering attacks of Hys- 
tero-Epilepsy. According to Dana, there are five stages as follows: 

1st. The Prodromata consisting of irritability and depression 
which may last from several hours to a day, 

2d. The Epileptoid stage, which ushers in the actual attack, dur- 
ing which patient loses consciousness and often falls to the ground. 

3d. The phase of contortions or so-called grand movements when 
the subject suffers from tonic and clonic spasm and writhes as // in 
severe pain. 

4th. The emotional phase where the patient experiences and 
often expresses intense feelings of anger or other violent passion. 

5th. The last stage is one of delirium, during which there is a 
great deal of mental excitement of a depressing character which is 
usually followed by a great physical weakness and amnesia or loss of 
memory, which may extend over several hours and often several 
days. Hallucinations often occur together with religious ideas. Pa- 
tients are frequently given to somnambulism. 

We might quote several authorities to prove that an interest in 
religious matters is symptomatic. Some of the patients at large are 
for a time active ivorkers in church matters or in public or private 


The symptoms of the inter-paroxysmal state are as follows: Be- 
tween the crises the patient may have been in a fair condition of 
general health, but usually presents certain definite, chronic manifes- 
tations of the disease. The most characteristic are sensory symp- 
toms, paralyses and contractures. 

The somatic (physical) phenomena of hysterical subjects are there- 
fore clearly psychic, and we must consider them as the expression of 
a psychic personality whose functions are performed defectively and 
abnormally. The predominant note is one of exaggerative excitability. 

The memory is haltinffj unreliable and sometimes confused. An 
hysterical subject lacks the faculty to bring an event into relation with 
its circumstances of time, place and person. 

Janet also regards Hysteria as a mental disease. Dr. W. A. Taylor, 
of the New Jersey State Hospital, claims that hysteria is connected 
with 10 per cent of all male admissions to that hospital. 

Corroborative of the above, in addition to the heredity Richeson 
revealed on examination disturbances in sensibility which would not 
be accounted for by any organic lesion, the left half of his body being 
anesthetic, and the area being sharply defined by a median line drawn 
down the centre of his body. In addition to this hemianesthesia, 
there is a zone on his right hand and arm clearly defined on a line 
which separates the third from the fourth finger to the elbow. The 
fourth and fifth fingers, and above them, as is the case on the left 
side, where I made punctures in the skin deep enough to draw blood, 
elicited no response, while the areas opposite them, or outside of 
these lines, are so hypersensitive that he jumps at the slightest touch. 
These tests were without warning, from behind him, or in the front, 
with his eyes blindfolded. 

It is my opinion that Richeson is and always was able to distin- 
guish between right and wrong, except during the four or five stages 
of his attacks of Hystero-EpUepsy* 

This case is unusual, in that the history and affidavits in Richeson's 
case have never been passed upon and his responsibility determined by 
a court or jury. 

In forming my opinion I have considered the portions of the affi- 
davits of physicians and others which I consider most important in 
determining Richeson's mental condition.! 

L. Vernon Briggs. 

* Although at the time of these examinations the term Hystero-Epilepsy 
was in common use to-day most authors writing on this subject would un- 
doubtedly prefer the term Hysteria with Epileptoid manifestations com- 
plicating the picture. 

1 1 here gave extracts from the said affidavits which I considered were 
diagnostic, but which would be only a repetition of what the reader has 
become acquainted with in Chapter III. 




On May 14, 191 2, Richeson was called from his cell 
and told that he was to be taken to Charlestown. His 
transfer from Charles St. Jail to the State Prison was 
made in eight minutes. 

On arriving he was met by Warden Bridges and other 
officers to whom he was introduced after which he 
shook hands with the officers who brought him to the 
State Prison. The officers who accompanied him were 
serious and seemed sad at the parting and Sheriff Quinn 
as he was leaving said to Warden Bridges that he was 
so deeply moved he could hardly keep from crying. 
Leaving the group of officers Richeson did not utter a 
word until he arrived in the corridor of the "Death 
House" when still apparently unmoved he stooped, pat- 
ted and spoke to Warden Bridges' French bull terrier 


On May 16, 191 2, Governor Foss decided he would 

not refer Richeson's petition for clemency to his Coun- 
cil. He had talked with the different members and 
knew some of them were strongly opposed to commu- 
tation, one, it is said, having stated that even if Richeson 
was found insane he would vote against commutation. 



Immediately following Governor Foss' decision he is- 
sued, through his secretary, Dudley M. Holman, the 
following statement for the press: 


Executive clemency will not be extended in the case of Clarence 
V. T. Richeson. The prisoner was sentenced upon his own confes- 
sion and without a trial for a crime which it appears impossible that 
any normal man could commit. 

After his confession and sentence a plea of insanity was set up 
by his counsel and strongly supported by affidavits extending over 
his life. The character of these affidavits left no other course for 
the Governor than to submit these and the prisoner himself to an 
examination by our leading alienists, in order to protect the Common- 
wealth from the charge that the man was actually insane when the 
deed was committed as well as at the present time. 

The evidence shows that Richeson's family is heavily afflicted with 
insanity, that he himself is neurotic, a somnambulist and a neuras- 
thenic; that he is subject to extreme emotional disturbances, marked 
by loss of memory, which two alienists have diagnosed as hysterical 
insanity, one physician adding the alternative term of hysterical 
delirium, and the majority opinion indicating that these attacks are 
hysterical attacks marked by extreme emotional disturbances of brief 
duration, with loss of memory during the attack and for a varying 
period following it. 

The evidence, however, while clearly revealing these attacks indi- 
cates that his crime was not committed by him during such an attack. 
Therefore, while there is some divergence of opinion among the 
alienists as to whether these attacks indicate actual insanity, there 
is sufficient ground for the conclusion that he is accountable for his 
crime, and that the exercise of Executive clemency in this instance 
would be contrary to the public good. 

The affidavits and medical evidence as to Richeson's unfavorable 
heredity, his lapses of consciousness and his attacks of delirium, are 
too voluminous to include in this statement, and are not suited to 

The alienists referred to are: Dr. Edward B. Lane, and Dr. I. H. 
Coriat, acting for the defense; Dr. L. Vernon Briggs, acting at the 
personal request of the Governor; and Drs. Henry R. Stedman, 
George T. Tuttle and Henry P. Frost, acting as a commission for 
the Commonwealth. 

Governor Foss' decision not to refer Richeson's peti- 
tion or the alienists' report to his Council removed 


Richeson's last chance and the next morning, May 17, 
at 9.30 A. M., his counsel Mr. Morse and the Rev. 
Herbert S. Johnson of the Warren Ave. Baptist Church 
visited him and broke the news to him. Mr. Morse 
said: "I have done all that lies in my power to save 
you from death but my efforts have been unavailing and 
the Governor has positively refused to refer your peti- 
tion to the Council." "Richeson was standing when I 
broke the news to him," said Mr. Morse, "and aside 
from a slight dropping of his head and a dejected look 
there was absolutely nothing in his manner to indicate 
he was conscious of the fate that awaited him." 

Rev. Mr. Johnson said: "Mr. Richeson received the 
communication from Mr. Morse with the same spirit 
of fortitude which he has exhibited from the beginning. 
He stated to me that his principal thought as he faced 
execution was not for himself but for the sorrow of his 
family and friends." 

Four hours were then spent in discussing matters 
preparatory to the end and when his visitors left Mr. 
Morse is reported to have said "I would almost wish 
to change places with Richeson so hard was my errand." 

Philip R. Dunbar, one of Richeson's counsel, is re- 
ported to have said "I consider that Governor Foss lost 
the point of the petition for commutation. Public senti- 
ment has overtopped everything else in this issue. . . . 
Sentiment is not Justice. Justice is an abstract thing 
when weighed in the legal scales but when clemency is 
sought it becomes an issue involving the rights of the 
individual. . . . That he is irresponsible is my belief. 
. . . What harm would it have been for Gov. Foss 
to refer the matter to the Executive Council for that 
body to decide?" 



The following night a death watch was assigned to 
Richeson. Rev. Herbert S. Johnson and the Prison 
Chaplain Herbert W. Stebbins volunteered and were 
accepted. One or both were with him from this time 
until he was electrocuted. The devotion of these men 
was splendid and they grew to know the minister and 
man and it was undoubtedly their influence and com- 
panionship that enabled him to go to the chair without 
a tremor. 

Richeson at once began to make preparations for his 
death. He requested that his "body should not be dis- 
sected" but be sent to Virginia and be placed in a grave 
beside his mother's. His desires were communicated 
to his father who telegraphed Mr. Morse the next day: 

Amherst, Va., May 18, 1912. 
Tell Clarence if it is his wish he shall be buried at home. Give 
him my deepest love. Lee is writing you. 

(Signed) T. V. Richeson. 

Richeson said "If I could only see my old father be- 
fore I go, I could die much easier. It might be asking 
too much to have him come here." 

He gave Mr. Morse his watch and chain and Ma- 
sonic charm to be sent to his father and his books to be 
distributed to his family and friends. His sister, Louise 
V. Richeson, again came on from Saranac Lake, N. Y., 
and visited him and plead with Governor Foss for his 
reprieve. She was described as tall, with a long chin 
and determined mouth, and pleasing personality. His 
brother, Douglas L. Richeson, came on for the fifth 
time from Chicago. He plead in vain with the Gov- 
ernor and then waited for the body of his brother. 

The evening of May 17th Richeson had another at- 
tack of Hysteria with hallucinations and delusions. The 


Prison Chaplain was talking quietly with him when his 
counsel, Mr. Morse, arrived. Almost immediately 
Richeson began to act queerly. The two guards became 
much alarmed. Mr. Morse who had seen Richeson in 
these attacks reassured them. In a few minutes Warden 
Bridges arrived and then Richeson was lying on his 
bed moaning and shrieking. He cried out that two 
men were watching him, constantly pursuing him, that 
two pairs of eyes were constantly focused upon him 
burning into his heart. He was in a semi-conscious 
state. Warden Bridges sent for Dr. Fred L. Lyons the 
Prison Physician who remained with Richeson until 
nearly midnight. He is reported to have said on leav- 
ing "Richeson does not appear to be rational or con- 
scious. He is delirious and is talking about two men 
watching him and is moaning and crying. At first he 
was hysterical and screamed. He has not eaten any- 
thing since morning. I have administered some medi- 
cine." Richeson did not recover from this attack so 
as to be fully conscious until 1 1 o'clock the next morn- 
ing, Saturday. 

On Sunday morning, May 19, he was told by his 
watchers that he still had at least twenty-four hours to 
live. He replied "I am at peace with my Maker and 
ready to die. The sooner I go to the chair the better." 
He later asked Warden Bridges if he could not conduct 
the service in the Prison Chapel as it was his last Sun- 
day on earth and that he would like to address the pris- 
oners and tell them how to live properly. He was told 
that the rules of the Prison would not permit him to 
conduct the service or address the prisoners. He then 
asked if he could hold a service in his cell, which request 
was granted. With him were the Revs. Johnson and 


Stebbins and the two prison guards. In a low voice he 
delivered the final sermon of his life. For his text he 
chose the 23rd Psalm, as follows: 

The Lord is my Shq^herd, I shall not want. He leadeth me 
beside the still waters. 

He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness 
for His name's sake. 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy 
staff they comfort me. 

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. 
Thou anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life 
and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord for ever. 

Immediately following the reading by his spiritual 
advisers of further quotations from the Bible, Richeson 

This is Sunday my last on earth. If I had lived a righteous life 
I should today be delivering a sermon from the pulpit of my church 
in Cambridge instead of being caged here awaiting a felon's death. 

But although I have sinned greatly, God is with me. For I have 
deeply repented. 

I feel that it is fitting, indeed I feel that it is my duty to offer up 
a sermon before I die and this my last Sunday is the proper day. 

He then entered on what Rev. Dr. Johnson declared 
was "a most beautiful exposition of the 23rd Psalm and 
brought in the scenes of his childhood." He said: 

I again see the silvery brook that flows through the meadow near 
my old father's house. The stately pines whose whispers lulled me to 
sleep when I was enjoying blissful childhood. 

Again he said in speaking of the shadow of death "I 
know that death is but a shadow for I have repented." 
He repeated many psalms at the service and during the 
day, including the 27th, 86th and 91st, and repeated 
from memory whole chapters from the Bible — Revela- 
tions XXII and many others. 


Later in the day when Chaplain Stebbins was read- 
ing from the Scriptures "For now we see through a 
glass darkly; but then face to face," Richeson raised his 
voice and sang from memory in a clear, smooth full 
tone the following gospel hymn : 


Not now, but in the coming years 

It may be in the better land 
We'll read the meaning of our tears, 

And there sometime, we'll understand. 


Then trust in God thro' all the days; 

Fear not for He doth hold thy hand 
Tho' dark thy way, still sing and praise; 

Sometime, sometime, we'll understand. 

We'll catch the broken threads again, 

And finish what we here begun ; 
Heav'n will the mysteries explain 

And then, ah then, we'll understand. 

We'll know why clouds instead of sun 

Were over many a cherish'd plan; 
Why song has ceased when scarce begun; 

Tis there, sometime, we'll understand. 

Why what we long for most of all 

Eludes so oft our eager hand; 
Why hopes are crushed and castles fall, 

Up there, sometime, we'll understand. 

God knows the way. He holds the key; 

He guides us with unerring hand; 
Sometime with tearless eyes we'll see; 

Yes there, up there, we'll understand. 

Just as he finished the first verse Warden Bridges, 
upon whom hitherto he had turned his back, entered 
and Richeson addressed him as follows: "O-o-ah, ah, 
Genl. Bridges, won't you join me in song?" Ignoring 
the invitation Warden Bridges asked "How are you 


feeling, Sir?" Richeson's answer was "I am ready to 
go whenever you say. I shall not make any trouble. 
You need have no further fear of any outbreak or col- 
lapse on my part. Since my attack on Friday night I 
have felt much better mentally and physically and I 
know that I will behave like a man. But I would that 
that time were soon." He then renewed his invitation 
to the Warden who declined saying his singing days 
were over. Richeson then sang the second and other 
verses alone. His listeners were moved to tears and 
could not join him. At the end of each verse he sang 
the chorus with all the strength and feeling he pos- 
sessed. Warden Bridges said he had had numberless 
experiences but that he never had been so stirred as he 
was when Richeson sang this hymn. The wives and 
children of the Prison officials who liver near the walls 
of the Prison were gathered on the lawn within the 
Prison Yard enjoying the cool air for the sun had just 
set. They, too, heard the voice so clear and strong that 
they were able to distinguish the words, but little did 
they realize it was from the man who was so soon to 
pay the extreme penalty. 

Among the many sermons preached on the last Sun- 
day which referred to Richeson was one at Chipman 
Hall by Rev. F. H. Holt of Reading, in which he said: 

I ask for the mercy of God and that the loving kindness of hu- 
manity be shown toward him who is about to be put to death, inas- 
much as he has repented and asked to be forgiven. I hope that the 
spirit of forgiveness will be manifested toward the erring brother. 

Rev. F. A. Wiggin, who was described as the 
"psychic pastor" of Unity Church, Huntington Ave- 
nue, preached on "Richeson Electrocuted. Then 


During Sunday Richeson asked many times for water 
to wash his face and hands and a comb with which he 
frequently straightened out his hair and he also asked 
his guard to manicure his nails as he was not allowed 
to use anything pointed. Many hours of his last day 
on earth were spent in singing hymns and repeating 
quotations from the Bible. Among the hymns he sang 
are the following: 

"My Faith Looks up to Thee." 

"Nearer, My God, to Thee." 

"Rock of Ages." 

"What a Friend we have in Jesus." 

"There is a Fountain Filled in Blood." 

Rev. Mr. Johnson felt up to the end that Richeson 
was insane and Mrs. Linnell, Avis' mother, is reported 
as saying ''I forgive Mr. Richeson of this dreadful 
thing. It is my belief he went to the electric chair an 
insane man and that he has been mentally irresponsible 
for some time past." Deacons of his church and many 
others who knew him well expressed the same belief. 

On Monday morning, May 20, Warden Bridges 
entered Richeson's cell. Richeson inquired when the 
execution would take place and when told probably 
that night he asked if it could not be arranged sooner 
saying he was anxious "to have it over with as soon as 
possible." Later the Catholic Priest of the Prison, Rev. 
Father Michael J. Murphy for whom Richeson felt 
a strong attachment, called and he received the Father 

At 6.45 P. M. he was prepared for the chair, a change 
of clothes, the shaving of a place on his head and a 
slit made in the left leg of the trousers. He calmly al- 
lowed these preparations to proceed. He had already 


written many notes of farewell to those nearest and 
dearest to him, one to Mrs. Linnell and one to his 
fiancee in Brookline. After the preparations were com- 
pleted he resumed the singing of hymns and repeated 
many prayers. He also arranged for his funeral, how 
he wanted it conducted and where, and selected the 
hymns he wanted sung. Among the many letters he 
received on this his last day was one postmarked "Sta- 
tion N, New York City. May 19, 3 P. M." It con- 
tained no clue to the sender but only a powder enclosed 
in a small envelope marked "Headache powder." 
Analysis showed it to be cyanide of potassium, the same 
poison he gave to Miss Linnell. 

At midnight following the evening of May 20, Riche- 
son was standing with his hands resting on the bars of 
his cell his head thrown back singing "Safe in the Arms 
of Jesus," his face almost transfigured by the exaltation 
he felt while singing. Sitting directly in front of him 
huddled in a chair with a half lighted cigar clutched 
in his fingers was William A. Morse, his counsel, plain- 
ly laboring under a frightful mental strain. On the 
left with a Bible open in his outstretched hands, erect 
though plainly moved, was Richeson's spiritual adviser, 
the Rev. Herbert S. Johnson. To the right, the Prison 
Chaplain, a Bible clutched to his breast. Both were 
singing but Richeson's voice was strong above either 
of them. Guards approached but hesitated a moment 
until the last words — "For I know whate'er befall me 
Jesus doeth all things well" — were sung. When they 
approached, Richeson turned and looking Attorney 
Morse squarely in the eyes stretched out his hand and 
said "Goodbye." He then said goodbye to the two 


Just past midnight, or at 12.08 A. M., Deputy War- 
den Allen appeared. The death warrant was read to 
Richeson and he was asked if he was ready. "I am 
ready" responded Richeson and with head erect look- 
ing straight ahead and with a firm tread he walked for- 
ward unassisted with a guard on either side. In his 
march to the chair the Prison Chaplain preceded the 
condemned man reading from the 51st Psalm in a deep, 
solemn voice which rang out through the chamber. 
"Have mercy upon me O God according to thy loving 
kindness; according unto the multitude of Thy tender 
mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thor- 
oughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin 
for I acknowledge my transgressions and my sin is ever 
before me." Rev. Mr. Stebbins continuing read from 
II Timothy the 12th verse: 

I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able 
to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. 

Then turning to Hebrew he read: 

For he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto 
God by him seeing that he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 

As the last quotation was being read Richeson reached 
the electric chair, turned half around, then settled him- 
self slowly into it and the four guards strapped him in 
and Edwin B. Currier the official executioner who was 
also electrician or Chief Engineer of the Massachusetts 
General Hospital adjusted the face and head straps. 
Richeson is said to be the only man ever executed in 
Massachusetts who talked calmly and with a clear, 
steady voice after being strapped in the electric chair. 
With the witnesses all gathered in the death chamber 


and just as the last straps were being adjusted the Rev. 
Herbert S. Johnson stepped forward and asked Riche- 
son the following questions which he answered in a 
clear voice: 

"Would you like to confess Christ as your Savior be- 
fore these witnesses?" 

"I do confess Christ as my Savior." 

"Have you the peace of God in your heart in this 

"I have the peace of God in this hour." 

"Does Christ give you the strength you need in this 

"Christ gives me the strength I need." 

"Do you repent of your sins?" 

"I do." 

"Have you the peace of God in your heart?" 

"God will take care of my soul and I pray for all." 

"Are you willing to die for Jesus' sake?" 

"I am willing to die." 

Just as he uttered the word "die," Warden Bridges 
tapped the stone floor with his gold headed black cane 
which had been used so many times as a signal to the 
executioner who switched on the electric current and 
at 12.17 Drs. McLaughlin, McGrath and Butler pro- 
nounced Richeson legally dead. The penalty exacted 
by the laws of Massachusetts had been paid and all 
hope of studying this abnormal man for the purpose 
of aborting criminal tendencies in others of his kind 
was wiped out in a few seconds. An autopsy of the 
body was performed and then his remains were taken 
by train to Lynchburg, Va., and to the Amherst Court 
House, thence in a springless farm wagon over a rough 
country road to its final resting place, where the 


brothers and near relatives acted as bearers and assisted 
in lowering the remains and filling the grave with earth. 
Could anything have been more destructive to this 
branch of science? Could Society have conceived any 
better plan to thwart the work of preventing the devel- 
opment of other men of this kind? 


Alienists, first examination of 
Spencer by, loo; reports and testi- 
mony of, in Spencer case, 102, 
103, 120, 127, 138, 153, 170, 174, 
176, 177, 186, 192, 193; opinions 
and testimony of, in Czolgosz case, 
235, 242, 247, 252; Richeson case, 

369, 372 
Ames, Dr. R. P. M., robbed by 
Spencer, 29 

Baldwin, Dr. H. T., diagnoses 
Richeson "hysteria," 402 

Binford, Dr. Fred A., examines 
Richeson, 394 

Blackstone, Miss Martha, shot by 
Spencer after women screamed, 

Briggs, Dr. L. Vernon, engaged as 
expert in Spencer case, 153; testi- 
fies in Spencer case, 177; Spencer 
writes him day before execution, 
219; Court order to see Spencer, 
227 ; investigates Czolgosz case, 
255; interviews Warden Mead, 
John H. Ross, Dr. John Gerin, 
Auburn, N. Y., 256, 261, 263; in- 
vestigation, Buffalo, N. Y., inter- 
views Supt. Police Wm. S. Bull, 
Dist. Atty. Penny, Asst. Dist. Atty. 
Haller, Dr. Joseph Fowler, 264, 
266, 271, 272, 274; investigation 
at West Seneca, N. Y., 274; in- 
vestigation at Detroit, Mich., in- 
terviews Supt. Police Downey, 
Chief of Police McDonnell, 279, 
282, 283 ; investigation at Cleve- 
land and Warren, Ohio, inter- 
views Czolgosz family, Supt. Po- 
lice George E. Corner and anarch- 
ists, 284 to 316; asked by Gov. 
Foss to examine Richeson, 372, 
410; submits his report to Gov. 
Foss, 424 

Buxton, Hartley P., robbed by Spen- 
cer, 30 

Christieson, Dr. Sanderson, pro- 
nounces Czolgosz insane, 338 

Coriat, Dr. I. H., report on Rlche- 

son's sanity, 369 
Courtney, Dr. Joseph W., testifies in 

Spencer case, 103, 176 
Cox, Gov. Channing H., message, 5 
Crime, society responsible for, 7; 
examination of persons charged 
with, 17 
Criminals, census, Mass., 1918, 18 
Crosby, Judge, charge in Spencer 

case, 199 
Czolgosz, case and reasons for in- 
vestigation, 233 ; basis of opinion 
of alienists and authorities, 235; 
shoots President McKinley, 238 ; 
sanity questioned, 241 ; placed in 
a dungeon, 246; indicted ist de- 
gree murder, 246 ; trial, 8J^ 
hours, 248, 252; found guilty and 
sentenced, 250; last statement, 
251; executed, 251; autopsy by 
and opinion of Spitzka, 253, 334, 
337; assumes name of Neiman, 
259; confession, 272; birthplace, 
281 ; family, 285, 287, 292, 295, 
301, 311; heredity, 289; leaves 
home, 294; disappointed in teach- 
ing of his church, 279, 304; con- 
sults physicians and their failure 
to recognize his condition, 300, 
305t 3i5t 333; consults Peruna Al- 
manac for his lucky days, 305 ; 
first change in condition noticed 
in 1894, 303; leaves his work for 
good, 305 ; speaks of death, 308 ; 
record at wire works, 314; at- 
tempts to become anarchist 316; 
asks for letter to Emma Goldman, 
318; meets Emma Goldman 320; 
anarchists warn their brethren 
against him, 321 ; his statements 
to anarchists, 323 ; secretiveness 
and desire to be alone, 260, 277, 
287, 290, 291, 294, 297; avoids the 
opposite sex, 291, 294, 296, 304, 
312; particular about his dress, 
244, 267, 268, 269, 270, 273, 276, 
277, 279, 298, 318; peculiarities re- 
lating to his food, 268, 373, 276, 




Czolgosz — continued 
279, 287, 294, 296, 300, 313; other 
incidents relating to his mental 
state, 270, 275, 278, 284, 287, 292, 
293, 296, 298, 303, 305, 306, 308, 
309, 3"» 312. 313, 314, 317. 321 

Daly, Dr. W. O., robbed by Spencer, 

Defectives, early recognition impor- 
tant, n; plan for school for, 10; 
treatment, 9; study of individual, 
12 ; reportable, 16 

Diagnosis, early necessary, 8; im- 
possible for juries to make, 17 

Dow, Dr. David C, diagnoses 
Richeson "insane," 409 

Elliott, Dr. Alfred, reports his 
opinion on Spencer's mental con- 
dition, 138 to 144; asks Spencer if 
he would plead guilty to 2nd de- 
gree Imurder, 123 ; inconsistency 
of his reports, 144, 145; learns 
definition legal insanity, 147; tes- 
timony, Spencer case, 170; admis- 
sions, 174 

Fiske, Mrs. Helena J., robbed by 

Spencer, 31 
Foss, Gov. Eugene N., besieged by 

persons for and against execution 

of Richeson, 370 
Fuller, Dr. Daniel H., interviews 

Spencer, 120; asks Spencer if he 

would plead guilty to 2nd degree 

murder, 127; testifies in Spencer 

case, 192 
Frost, Dr. Henry P., examines Riche- 
son, 373 

Gilhooley, Michael J., robbed by 

Spencer, 30 
Grace, Dr. Thompson W., diagnoses 

"cataleptic state with delusions," 

Richeson, 388 
Green, F. L., robbed by Spencer, 59 

Hamilton, Dr. Alan McLane, called 
as expert and pronounces Czolgosz 
demented, 252, and "delusional," 

Harwood, Dr. Charles H., diagnoses 
Richeson "insane," 397 

Hosley, Nelson R., robbed by Spenc- 
er, 32 

Houston, Dr. John A., testifies in 
Spencer case, 102, 170 

Hughes, Dr. Charles H., gives his 
opinion of Czolgosz, 339, 342 

Hutchins, W. S., robbed by Spencer, 

Juries as diagnosticians, 17 

Lane, Dr. E. B., testifies in Spencer 
case, 174; reports on mental con- 
dition of Richeson, 368 

Legal points and opinions: 

Constructive legislation suggested, 
15; prosecution's opening at 
Spencer's trial, 155; opening state- 
ment for defense, 158-9; Dr. A. 
Elliott a hostile witness, 170; un- 
precedented interruption of testi- 
mony by a defendant, if sane, 171; 
defendant's attacks on witnesses, 
172; convicts testify for prosecu- 
tion, 182; hypothetical question in 
Spencer case, 186; standard of 
right and wrong, 193 ; arguments 
for Spencer's defense, 194; Atty. 
Gen'l sums up for state, 197; 
Judge Crosby's charge, 199; Jury 
to decide medical question, 2(X); 
Spencer excepts, 202 ; reasons 
given against commutation, 203 ; 
arguments for new trial, 203; new 
trial for Spencer again asked for 
on ground of newly discovered 
evidence, 205 ; petition of Spen- 
cer for commutation, 223 ; legal 
and medical insanity, 230 ; 
Czolgosz trial of 8>^ hours, 248, 
252; counsel for Czolgosz assigned 
only two days before trial, no ex- 
perts called nor any plea entered 
for the defense, 249 ; no testimony 
offered in Czolgosz behalf, and 
jurors in qualifying state they have 
formed an opinion, 250; Holt on 
criminal law, 340; limited re- 
sponsibility, 349; Dr. John Mac- 
pherson on the law as adminis- 
tered, 349; Philip R. Dunbar, 
counsel for Richeson, 357, 360, 431 ; 
Wm. A. Morse and John L. Lee 
counsel for Richeson, 366; Riche- 
son indicted on five counts, no 
jury selected, pleads guilty, sen- 
tenced to death, 362, 365, 366; 
question of sanity raised, 368; 
Richeson petitions for clemency, 
Gov. Foss decides not to refer pe- 
tition to his Council and issues 
statement, 424, 429 



Linnell, Miss Avis, death of, 351 
Luddington, George A., robbed by 

Spencer, 29 
Lyons, Dr. Fred L., diagnoses Riche- 

son "hysteria," 432 
Lydston's opinion of mental state of 

Czolgosz, 340 

Macdonald, Dr. Carlos F., examines 

Czolgosz and reports findings, 

247; describes trial and execution, 


McKinley, President, dies, 239 

Miller, H. L., robbed by Spencer, 31 

Page, Mrs. Frances E., robbed by 

Spencer, 31 
Phillips, Dr. G. M., diagnoses Riche- 

son "neurasthenia sexualis," 387 
Powers, Lewis J., robbed by Spencer, 

Pratt, Dr. C. 8., robbed by Spencer, 


Quinby, Dr. Hosea M., testifies in 
Spencer case, 103, 186 

Regis, Prof., opinion of regicides, 

Ripley, H. M., robbed by Spencer, 


Rogers, Arthur H., robbed by 
Spencer, 33 

Root, Dr. Richmond B., diagnoses 
Richeson "hysteria," 392 

Richeson, Rev. Clarence V. T., 347; 
notified of Miss Linnell's death, 
352; first met Miss Linnell, 353; 
resigns pastorate Hyannis, 354; 
fascinated women, 357, 378, 390; 
buys poison, 358, 416; arrested 
for murder, 359; heredity, 373 to 
377; early history, 377 to 411; life 
in Missouri, 383 ; engaged to dif- 
ferent women, 378, 379, 383, 389, 
403 ; removal to state prison, 428 ; 
Atty. Morse informs him of Gov. 
Foss' refusal to refer his petition 
to his Council, 430; disposes of his 
effects, 431; asks to conduct Sun- 
day service at state prison, 432; 
invites Warden Bridges to join 
him in song, 434; his last day on 
earth, how spent, 436; arranges 
for his funeral, 437; singing when 
called to pay the extreme penalty, 
437; coolness at time of execution, 
439; incidents relating to his men- 
tal state at Hyannis, 354; reported 

Richeson — continued 
by Dr. Lane, 368; reported by 
Dr. Coriat, 369; Carroll Co., Mo., 
378; "neurasthenia sexualis," 385; 
asks to be castrated, 382; Texas, 
387; Brockton, 355; Georgetown, 
388, 391 ; mentally unbalanced, 
378, 380, 402; changes of occupa- 
tion, 379; suspicions, 379; placed 
in a sanitarium, 380; "mental de- 
rangement," 381; "must be crazy," 
382; "semi-conscious," 392; "inco- 
herent," 393; "insane," 397; con- 
vulsions, 399, 403; paralysis, 398; 
"hysteria," 401 ; "unconscious," 
412, 418; attempt at suicide, 423; 
hallucinations, delusions, 431 

Spencer, Bertram G., heredity, 63 ; 
childhood, 67; first punishment!, 
68; life threatened, 69; turned 
from home, 69; first theft, 70; left 
'for wolves to devour," 71 ; shot 
at by father, 76; failure at school, 
84, 163 ; hallucinations of hearing, 
87. 90, 92, 151, 162; attempt at 
suicide, 83, 105, 181, 212, 220J life 
in California, 87; marriage, 94; 
changes in occupation, 94; signs 
"Bert the Burglar," 98; ideas of 
persecution, 214; effect of noise on, 
26, 33, 54,56,96,151,158,169,214; 
suggestibility, 59, 60, 70, 97, 98, 108, 
194, 214; delusions, 138, 174, 178; 
commits assaults, 72, 79, 80, 81, 
83, 86, 90, 93, 95, 97, 165, 172, 179; 
robs twenty persons, 26 to 56 ; 
shoots Miss Blackstone, 26; arrest, 
47 ; commitment to Bridgewater, 
106; resents being called insane, 
115; asked if he would plead 
guilty to 2nd degree murder, 123, 
127; returned to Springfield for 
trial, 149 ; condition and violence 
at trial, 156, 157, 167, 172, 175, 
176, 181; trial, 155; sentenced to 
death, 205 ; embraces Christian 
Science faith, 214, 215; mother 
writes of change, 220; desire to 
make good appearance on removal 
to Charlestown State Prison, 223 ; 
petitions Gov. Foss, 223 ; Mother 
appeals to Gov. Foss and members 
of Council, 224; Mother informs 
him Gov. Foss will not present his 
petition to Council, 224; Mother 
appeals to President Taft, 225 ; let- 
ters just before execution, 216, 



Spencer — continued 

219, 226; visited by Dr. L. V. 

l^riggs, 227; execution, 228 
Stedman, Dr. H. R., examines 

Richeson, 373 
Swift, Attorney General, defines 

legal insanity to the government 

experts in the Spencer case, 147 
Smead, Sheriff W. L., robbed by 

Spencer, 59 
Swan, W. M., robbed by Spencer, 32 

Tessier, Eva D., robbed by Spencer, 

Tuttle, Dr. George T., testifies in 
Spencer case, 193; examines Riche- 
son, 373 

Wheeler, L. D., robbed by Spencer, 

Young, Hon. B. Loring, address, 6